Right around 10,000 health care workers in the United States have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), according to official government data. But new reports suggest that this figure is inaccurate and far lower than what’s really occurring.
The Guardian (United Kingdom) and Kaiser Health News recently teamed up on a project called “Lost on the Frontline” that aims to document the lives of health care workers that are being lost during this pandemic, but that are not necessarily being tabulated by individual states and sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Because it’s known that CDC data on the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) draws from just 16 percent of the nation’s total number of cases, according to The Guardian, the true infection and death count among health care workers is almost guaranteed to be higher than what’s currently being reported.
According to the CDC, individual states are only providing data on about 11 percent of health care workers who become infected or die from the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that many thousands more of them are being lost in the mix.
“We wanted to spotlight healthcare providers because they are the national heroes now caring for others with this disease at a time of great uncertainty,” stated Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the CDC, whose agency is also working to improve its data collection methods for health care workers.
“We know their institutions are trying to provide material to help them work safely, but already thousands have been infected.”
Currently, the CDC is receiving “case report” forms from laboratories that it relies on to tabulate health care worker deaths. But of the more than 310,000 forms the CDC has thus far analyzed, only about 4,400 included an answer to the question about whether health care workers were treated and whether they survived.
While many hospitals across the country are largely empty, others in so-called “hotspot” areas are reportedly overwhelmed to the point that they simply can’t keep up with proper reporting on the number of health care infections and deaths.
In New York City, for instance, some health care workers are dying at home, which means they get overlooked. Others are relying on health care staff that’s too busy caring for sick patients to keep proper records.
“In some facilities, the person who is supposed to do the reporting is caring for patients and is overwhelmed,” Schuchat maintains.
In Ohio, there are reports emerging that as many as one in five, or 20 percent, of health care workers are falling ill with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), though this data isn’t necessarily being reported at the county, city or hospital levels.
In Detroit, one hospital system, Henry Ford, has reported that more than 700 of its employees have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), though this hospital is refusing to say how many of them have died.
According to the CDC, a whopping 73 percent of the health care workers falling ill are female, and their median age is 42, according to the CDC, suggesting once again that younger people are still susceptible to infection.
The system is so broken, it turns out, that hospital systems aren’t even able to keep track of the names of people who are getting sick and dying. Somehow, their deceased bodies are simply being counted, according to the CDC, though their identities may or may not be known.
To keep up with the latest Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) news, be sure to check out Pandemic.news.
Sources for this article include: