12 Months Of Trauma: More Than 3,600 U.S. Health Workers Died In COVID’s First Year
This is what was learned from a year-long investigation by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News (KHN) to count Health Care Worker deaths, tracing the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice: More than 3,600 U.S. Health Care Workers died in the first year of the Coronavirus Pandemic according to Lost on the Frontline, which tracked such deaths.
Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. Health Care Worker deaths.
The Federal Government has not comprehensively tracked this data, but calls are mounting for the Biden Administration to undertake a count as the Guardian/KHN project comes to a close.
The project, which tracked who died and why, provides a window into the workings - and failings - of the U.S. Health Care System during the pandemic.
One key finding: Two thirds of deceased Health Care Workers for whom we have data identified as People of Color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in America’s health care workforce.
Lower-paid Workers who handled everyday patient care, including Nurses, Support Staff and Nursing Home Employees, were far more likely to die in the pandemic than Physicians.
The year-long series of investigative reports found that many of these deaths could have been prevented.
Widespread Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and mask shortages, a lack of COVID testing, weak contact tracing, inconsistent mask guidance by politicians, missteps by employers, and lax enforcement of Workplace Safety Rules by Government Regulators all contributed to the increased risk faced by Health Care Workers.
Studies show Health Care Workers were more than three times as likely to contract COVID as the general public.
“We rightfully refer to these people without hyperbole - that they are true heroes and heroines,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an exclusive interview with The Guardian and KHN.
The COVID deaths of so many Health Workers are “a reflection of what healthcare workers have done historically, putting themselves in harm’s way, by living up to the oath they take when they become Physicians and Nurses,” he said.
Lost on the Frontline launched last April with the story of Frank Gabrin, the first-known American Emergency Room Doctor to die of COVID-19.
In the early days of the pandemic, Gabrin, 60, was on the frontlines of the surge, treating COVID patients in New York and New Jersey.
Yet, like so many others, he was working without PPE.
“Don’t have any PPE that has not been used,” he texted a friend. “No N95 masks - my own goggles - my own face shield.”
Gabrin’s untimely death was the first fatality entered into the Lost on the Frontline database.
His story of working through a crisis to save lives shared similarities with the thousands that followed.
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