Filipinos compose nearly a third of all nurses in the U.S. who died of COVID-19, according to a new report from National Nurses United (NNU).
As of Sept. 16, a total of 1,718 health care workers have died of the disease and related complications, which researchers attributed to “government failures.”
NNU — America’s largest organization of registered nurses — collected the death toll estimate from multiple sources, including federal and state reports, news publications, social media posts, obituaries, union memorials and its own internal reporting.
Of the health workers who lost their lives, 213 were registered nurses, and 67 (31.5%) of them were Filipino.
The finding reflects the broader disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Filipinos in the U.S.
Filipinos make up just 4% of all registered nurses in the country, and they represent 54% of all nurses of color who died from the pandemic.
Celia Yap-Banago, 69, for instance, passed away on April 21, just a week before her retirement. Until the time of her infection, she was taking care of another COVID-19 patient.
Joshua Obra, 29, died on July 6 after a 26-day battle against COVID-19. The theme park enthusiast was known on Instagram as “Disneyland Panda.”
NNU believes that the rights of health care workers — particularly to a safe workplace — are being violated. It also stresses the industry’s lack of transparency in providing information on COVID-19 fatalities, as well as the government’s failure in compelling employers to publish such data.
“We cannot forget the deaths of so many health care workers, which includes 213 nurses,”
Zenei Cortez, a president of NNU, said
. “These deaths were avoidable and unnecessary due to government and employer willful inaction. Nurses and health care workers were forced to work without personal protective equipment they needed to do their job safely. It is immoral and unconscionable that they lost their lives.”
Jean Ross, another president in the union, highlighted why nurses need access to data:
“Up-to-date information is crucial for the nation to effectively respond to this pandemic. Nurses know that we need detailed, consistent data to understand how and where the virus is spreading, who is most vulnerable to infection, and whether interventions are effective. 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.”
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