U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez

published on October 6, 2020 - 3:54 PM
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A failure by federal and state governments to track and report data on the coronavirus may have led to the deaths of numerous health care workers, according to the country’s largest nursing union.

Last week, National Nurses United released “Sins of Omission,” alleging that these failures resulted in the deaths of more than 1,700 medical workers. In the report, the NNU condemns what they say is a failure to track and publicly report transparent, accurate and timely data on the Covid-19 pandemic, endangering lives.

“Up-to-date information is crucial for the nation to effectively respond to this pandemic,” said Nurse Jean Ross, one of the union’s presidents. “We can use this information to learn how to prevent the spread of future pandemics. Unfortunately, instead of tracking and reporting Covid-19 data, federal and state governments have ignored, hidden, and manipulated Covid-19 data.”

According to the report, at least 1,718 health care workers — including 213 registered nurses — died from Covid-related causes. More than half of all nurses (58.2%) to die in the pandemic have reportedly been women of color. All in all, at 258,768 cases were documented among health care providers.

This has included two nurses in Fresno, the first of these being Sandra Oldfield, who died in May of complications from the virus. This happened after an outbreak at Kaiser Permanente in March — one that resulted in nine of her colleagues also being infected.

The second victim, Oliver Isleta, died in September, having worked as an RN for Community Regional Medical Center. He was just one of 67 nurses of Filipino descent to die from Covid-19 — 31.5% of all reported deaths.

“Nurses and health care workers were forced to work without personal protective equipment they needed to do their job safely,” said Nurse Zenei Cortez, another NNU president. “It is immoral and unconscionable that they lost their lives.”

Along with nurses, physicians have also been lost to Covid-19. Last month, Dr. Robert Shankerman, the chief medical officer for United Health Centers, passed away while in intensive care with coronavirus-related complications.


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