More than 900 health care workers in the U.S. have lost their lives on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new database created by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News.
The “Lost on the frontline” project, a partnership between the two newsrooms, tracks and documents health care worker deaths in the U.S. and tells their stories. It includes frontline doctors, nurses, paramedics, carers and cleaning and administrative support staff at medical facilities, all of whom are said to have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
As of Aug. 11, the database had recorded 922 deaths. Some of these were preventable, the news organizations noted in an article about the project last week.
Health care workers already face increased exposure to those infected with the virus. That fact, coupled with shortages of testing and personal protective equipment, resistance to social distancing and mask wearing, and the push to keep businesses open contributed to an overwhelmed health system and rising death toll.
Journalists have so far profiled and memorialized 167 of the workers who died. Of those deaths, 62% were people of color, and 40% were Black or Latino, according to the database. While this represents just a small snapshot of the total data, it suggests, like other more comprehensive datasets have shown, that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people of color.
Nurses made up the largest group among the professions ― roughly 38% of those profiled. The median age was 57 but included a range of 20 to 80. These early findings show a majority of the deaths were in April after the first surge of the virus on the East Coast.
Almost one-third of the workers had reported inadequate access to PPE.
The total death toll was compiled via crowdsourcing, social media, reports from colleagues, local reports, workers unions and online obituaries, the news outlets said. Those deaths were then investigated by a team of more than 50 journalists.
The names and stories published so far include Brittany Bruner Ringo, a 32-year-old California nurse whose mom remembered her as an optimist, even when she was battling breathing difficulties before her death; Lisa Ewald, 53, a nurse and animal-lover, who faced delays in accessing a test and died alone at home a day after learning her diagnosis; and Norman Einhorn, 69, an eye specialist who “liked to party” and continued to see patients at rehabilitation centers after shuttering his practice in accordance with state orders.
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