NNU report: 1,700+ HCWs died from COVID-19 in US
As of Sept. 16, there have been 1,718 deaths from COVID-19 and related complications among health care workers in the U.S., significantly more than the 690 deaths reported by the CDC, according to a report released by National Nurses United.
“Nurses and health care workers were forced to work without personal protective equipment they needed to do their job safely,” Zenei Cortez, RN, a president of National Nurses United, said in a press release. “It is immoral and unconscionable that they lost their lives.”
The report follows survey results released by the American Nurses Association last month, which found that many nurses across the United States were still facing PPE shortages, with many reusing essential N-95 masks for 5 days or longer.
Researchers collected information on registered nurses and other health care workers using media reports, obituaries, union memorial pages, GoFundMe and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. They assessed deaths from COVID-19 and related complications among health care workers, which they defined as all workers in care settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, medical practices, congregate-living and home health care settings.
They found that among the 1,718 health care worker deaths attributed to COVID-19-related illness, 213 deaths occurred among registered nurses.
The report showed that nurses of certain racial and ethnic groups were disproportionately affected by COVID-19-related mortality. Although people of color make up just 24.1% of all registered nurses, 58.2% of registered nurses who died of COVID-19 or related complications were people of color.
Although Filipino nurses make up 4% of all registered nurses in the U.S., they accounted for 31.5% of COVID-19-related deaths among nurses. Additionally, despite representing only 12.4% of registered nurses in the U.S., Black nurses accounted for 17.8% of deaths.
NNU researchers also found that of the 1,515 deaths among health care workers who were not registered nurses, 29.6% of those with available information worked in hospital settings and 70.4% worked in nursing homes, emergency medical services, medical practices or other settings.
The report also concluded that there were 258,768 COVID-19 infections among health care workers during the study period, 166% higher than the 156,306 COVID-19 infections in this population reported by the CDC.
NNU said many of these deaths were avoidable, and that both the government and the health care industry are partly responsible. In an accompanying statement, the union said the lack of detailed and consistent data on COVID-19 undermines the ability to respond effectively to the ongoing pandemic and endangers the lives of nurses and other health care workers along with their patients.
“The United States needs transparent, accurate and timely publicly reported data on COVID-19 immediately,” Deborah Burger, RN, a president of NNU, said in the press release. “Nurses call on the Trump administration to restore hospital COVID-19 data reporting to the CDC immediately. The CDC must then strengthen, improve and expand its data tracking.”
NNU. NNU Statement on Transparency, Accuracy, and Timeliness of Publicly Reported Covid-19 Data. https://act.nationalnursesunited.org/page/-/files/graphics/0920_Covid19_H%26S_DataTransparancy_Statement.pdf. Accessed September 28, 2020.
NNU. Sins of Omission. https://act.nationalnursesunited.org/page/-/files/graphics/0920_Covid19_SinsOfOmission_Data_Report.pdf. Accessed September 28, 2020.