3,607 US healthcare workers died in pandemic's first year: 5 takeaways

More than 3,600 U.S. healthcare workers died of COVID-19 and its complications nationwide in the first year of the pandemic, according to an investigation by Kaiser Health News and The Guardian.

The news organizations have been tracking healthcare worker COVID-19 deaths as part of their 12-month "Lost on the Frontline" project. The project, which launched in April 2020 and closes April 8, revealed 3,607 healthcare worker deaths in the first year of the pandemic. 

For the project, more than 100 reporters examined governmental and private data sources, interviewed those who lost loved ones and spoke to healthcare experts. The 3,607 total includes deaths identified by labor unions, obituaries, media outlets and online postings by family members. More information about the methodology is available here

Five takeaways from the investigation:

1. People of color represented two-thirds of deceased healthcare workers for whom the project has data.

2.  Fifty-nine is the median age of death from COVID-19 among healthcare workers in the project's database.

3. More than a third of deceased healthcare workers were not born in the U.S.

4. Nurses, support staff, nursing home employees and other lower-paid healthcare workers involved in everyday patient care were more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians.

5. Thirty percent of healthcare worker deaths were among hospital workers. The other deaths were among workers in such places as residential facilities, outpatient clinics, hospices and prisons.

In an interview with The GuardianAnthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed gratitude for healthcare workers and the risk they have taken on during the pandemic, while also acknowledging that shortages of personal protective equipment contributed to the more than 3,600 healthcare worker deaths. 

"During the critical times when there were shortages was when people had to use whatever was available to them," he told the news organization. "I'm sure that increased the risk of getting infected among healthcare providers."

Read more about the project here


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