Health Workers Hit Hard, Early

Nurse Amber Kirk performs motion exercises on a COVID-19 ICU patient in La Mesa, California, May 5, 2020. Image: Mario Tama/Getty
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Nurse Amber Kirk performs motion exercises on a COVID-19 ICU patient in La Mesa, California, May 5, 2020. Image: Mario Tama/Getty

As US coronavirus hospitalizations surge, a new CDC study quantifies what health workers—and nurses in particular—already know: They suffered disproportionately early in the pandemic.
 
Across 13 states from March–May, ~6% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were health workers: 

  • 36.3% of them were nurses
  • Over 67% had direct patient contact
  • 72% were female
  • Over 50% were Black, NBC reports.
  • 89.9% had an underlying health condition

 
While treatments and precautions have since improved, case numbers are reaching new heights and PPE shortages that health workers have flagged throughout the pandemic are once again becoming dire, The New York Times reports.
 
Health workers are feeling the strain and fear there may be little reprieve ahead: “They're tightening their seat belts, thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, it could get worse,’” said report co-author William Schaffner.

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