Medical experts and officials have spent much of the year warning about the potential impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s healthcare professionals.
According to a new study, however, the death toll among U.S. healthcare workers appears to be much higher than previously known.
“Interviews with relatives and friends”
The Guardian and Kaiser Health News found that some 2,900 people working in medical facilities have died after contracting the virus.
As the United Kingdom-based newspaper reported, 1 in 3 of those fatalities could be attributed to insufficient access to personal protective equipment. The survey gauged that percentage by conducting “interviews with relatives and friends of about 300 victims.”
The piece further detailed how a lack of PPE was deemed to be a factor among workers who were infected and later died of COVID-19 — including 68-year-old home health aide Sue Williams-Ward.
PPE inadequacies linked to hundreds of deaths
Despite bathing, feeding, and dressing patients, Williams-Ward reportedly wore no protective equipment. She contracted the virus and died six weeks after intubation.
Vincent DeJesus, 39, reportedly died after telling a relative that he would find himself “in deep trouble” if he were forced into close proximity to a COVID-19 patient wearing the insufficient face coverings his Nevada hospital provided.
Nearly 700 of the deaths referenced in the report were in either New Jersey or New York, both of which were early epicenters of the virus’s spread.
Some state leaders — including Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have faced significant backlash for policies some critics say only exacerbated the rate of infection and related deaths.
“Solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis”
The Department of Justice announced in August that it was seeking information from a total of four states regarding the controversial practice of sending infected residents back to nursing home facilities.
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” Cuomo’s order stated.
As the DOJ press release explained: “The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents.”