- National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurse union, released a report Monday that found 213 registered nurses have died from COVID-19 and related complications, out of 1,718 total healthcare worker deaths.
- Of the registered nurses who died of COVID-19, 58.2% were nurses of color, including 67 Filipino American nurses and 38 Black American nurses.
- Nurses across the country have told Business Insider that their hospitals didn’t provide equipment like masks and gloves to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
- “For our country and our government who says we are terribly necessary: we are not heroes, we are just doing our job and we expect you to protect us,” said Jean Ross, co-president of NNU, said in an interview with Business Insider.
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More than 200 registered nurses have died from COVID-19 and related complications.
National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurse union, released a report on health care worker deaths from the country’s battle with coronavirus.
NNU estimates 1,718 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19 to date, including 213 registered nurses. There were 3 million nursing jobs across the country in 2019, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The union relied on research from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control, and state and local public health records, as well as social media accounts, obituaries, media reports, and GoFundMe campaigns.
Of the registered nurses who died of COVID-19, 58.2% were nurses of color, including 67 Filipino American nurses and 38 Black American nurses. BLS estimates that just 24.1% of registered nurses in the US are people of color.
Nurses also comprise almost a third of the total number of hospital healthcare workers that died of COVID-19. Of the registered nurses who died from the disease, 143 worked in hospitals.
Since the start of the country’s outbreak, nurses across the country told Business Insider they lacked masks, gloves, and other hospital equipment that protects them from catching the coronavirus. Many nurses, which spend more time near patients than other healthcare workers, said they worried about catching the virus due to their hospitals’ lack of preparedness. In one instance, a hospital nurse who resorted to wearing trash bags in lieu of hospital gowns died of COVID-19.
Though NNU’s death estimate is slightly higher than other counts, the union says it is a conservative estimate based on the “limited” subset of COVID-19 data available. The union condemned federal and state governments in the report for failing to publicly report data on the virus.
In July, Trump ordered hospitals to stop giving data to the US Centers for Disease Control on how many coronavirus patients they have. Trump moved hospital data to the US Department of Health and Human Services, which keeps it in a more selective database called HHS Protect, which barred the general public from seeing hospital capacity during the pandemic.
Nurses also called out states for releasing limited data on COVID-19 deaths. Multiple news outlets found state leaders misrepresented outbreak data to downplay case counts.
“For our country and our government who says we are terribly necessary: we are not heroes, we are just doing our job and we expect you to protect us,” said Jean Ross, co-president of NNU, said in an interview with Business Insider. “Employers aren’t, our government is not. We have to keep insisting on demonstrating to the public what’s really going on.”