More than 3,600 US health workers died in COVID’s first year

A 12-month investigation tracked deaths of health care workers during the pandemic. The project provides a window into the workings and failings of the U.S. health system during the pandemic.

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April 9, 2021 - 3:34 PM

An investigation by The Guardian and KHN found that more than 3,600 U.S. health care workers died in the first year of the pandemic. (Lydia Zuraw/KHN)

More than 3,600 U.S. health care workers perished in the first year of the pandemic, according to “Lost on the Frontline,” a 12-month investigation by The Guardian and KHN to track such deaths.

Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. health care worker deaths. The federal government has not comprehensively tracked this data. But calls are mounting for the Biden administration to undertake a count as the KHN/Guardian project comes to a close.

The project, which tracked who died and why, provides a window into the workings — and failings — of the U.S. health system during the COVID-19 pandemic. One key finding: Two-thirds of deceased health care workers for whom the project has data identified as people of color, revealing the deep inequities tied to race, ethnicity and economic status in America’s health care workforce. Lower-paid workers who handled everyday patient care, including nurses, support staff and nursing home employees, were far more likely to die in the pandemic than physicians were.

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