New Database on Health Worker Deaths During Pandemic

Aug. 11, 2020

Two news organizations, The Guardian and Kaiser Health News (KHN) today unveiled an interactive database, reporting that 922 U.S. health workers have died during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people of color and nurses facing the highest toll. The organizations say that the database, Lost on the Frontline, is aimed at counting, verifying and memorializing every U.S. healthcare worker who dies during the pandemic, based on crowdsourcing and reports from colleagues, social media, online obituaries, workers’ unions and local media.

The news organizations say they have independently confirmed 167 deaths, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital janitors, administrators and nursing home workers. Of the 167 workers in the database:

  • A majority – 103 (62%) – were identified as people of color.   
  • At least 52 (31%) were reported to have inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).   
  • The median age was 57 and ages ranged from 20 to 80, with 21 people (12%) under 40 years of age.   
  • About one-third – at least 53 – were born outside the U.S., and 25 were from the Philippines.   
  • The majority of the deaths, 103, were in April, after the initial surge on the east coast.            
  • Roughly 38% – 64 – were nurses, but the total also includes physicians, pharmacists, first responders and hospital technicians, among others.   
  • At least 68 lived in New York and New Jersey, two states hit hard at the outset of the pandemic, with Illinois (11 confirmed deaths) and California following.

The Guardian and KHN say that because the database is a work in progress, the early findings represent a fraction of total reports and are not representative of all healthcare worker deaths.