In a 12-month investigation conducted by The Guardian and Kaiser Health “Lost on the Frontline,” it was identified that 3,600 U.S. health care workers perished in the first year of the pandemic. 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 KHN/Guardian project comes to a close.
One key finding was that two-thirds of deceased health care workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity, and economic status in America’s health care workforce. The year-long series of investigative reports also found that many of these deaths could have been prevented. Widespread shortages of masks and other personal protective gear, 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.
- More than half of the overall 3,607 healthcare works who died in 2020 were younger than age 60.
- More than a third of those workers were born outside the United States, including a disproportionate number of people from the Philippines.
- Two-thirds of decreased healthcare workers for whom the project has data identified themselves as people of color.
- Most workers employed who died were employed at residential facilities, outpatient clinics, hospices and prisons, among other places. Well-funded academic medical centers, meanwhile, saw relatively few cases of death from COVID-19 among their healthcare provider ranks, the authors noted.
There are many studies becoming public now; this is one of many and mirrors several other research reports. We will make it through this pandemic, we will be stronger for it, we will grieve the loss of residents and staff, and we will be better prepared going forward.
Stay well, mask up, stay tuned!