600 Health Care Workers Died of COVID-19 and total is rising
Nearly 600 frontline healthcare workers have died of Covid-19, according to Lost on the Frontline, a project launched by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News (KHN) that aims to count, verify and memorialize and every healthcare worker who dies during the pandemic.
The tally includes doctors, nurses and paramedics, as well as crucial healthcare support staff such as hospital janitors, administrators and nursing home workers, who have put their own lives at risk during the pandemic to help care for others. Lost on the Frontline has now published the names and obituaries for more than 100 workers.
A majority of those documented were identified as people of color, mostly African American and Asian/Pacific Islander. Profiles of more victims, and an updated count, will be added to our news sites twice weekly going forward.
There is no other comprehensive accounting of US healthcare workers’ deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has counted 368 Covid deaths among healthcare workers, but acknowledges its tally is an undercount. The CDC does not identify individuals.
The Guardian and KHN are building an interactive, public-facing database that will also track factors such as race and ethnicity, age, profession, location and whether the workers had adequate access to protective gear. The database – to be released this summer – will offer insight into the workings and failings of the US healthcare system during the pandemic.
In addition to tracking deaths, Lost on the Frontline reports on the challenges healthcare workers are facing during the pandemic. Many were forced to reuse masks countless times amid widespread equipment shortages. Others had only trash bags for protection. Some deaths have been met with employers’ silence or denials that they were infected at work.
The number released today reflects the 586 names currently in the Lost on the Frontline internal database, which have been collected from family members, friends and colleagues of the deceased, media reports and unions, among other sources. Reporters at the Guardian and KHN are independently confirming each death by contacting family members, employers, medical examiners and others before publishing names and obituaries on our sites. More than a dozen journalists across two newsrooms – as well as student journalists – are involved in the project.