Data from the US National Nurses United (NNU) reveals a total of 83 Filipino nurses were among the more than 3,200 health workers who succumbed to COVID-19 in the United States.
In a report by ABS-CBN News, the NNU said it documented the deaths using its own internal reports, media reports, social media, obituaries, union memorials, and federal and state reporting.
“As of February 11, we find that at least 329 registered nurses and 3,233 health care workers, including these registered nurses, have died of COVID-19 and related complications while working in health care settings,” the NNU said in an update to its “Sins of Omissions” report first published in September 2020.
The group noted that of the 329 deaths, 170 of 314 nurses for whom race/ethnicity data is available, are of color, including Filipinos.
“Eighty-three (26.4 percent) of the 314 registered nurses, for whom race/ethnicity data is available, who have died of COVID-19 and related complications are Filipino. They make up four percent of registered nurses in the United States,” NNU said.
“Just under half (48.8 percent) of the registered nurses of color who have died to date have been Filipino.”
Aside from Filipinos, the group also reported that 53 Black registered nurses or 16.9 percent died of COVID-19, with 12.4 percent making up the total number of registered nurses in the US.
NNU also noted that their estimates of over 3,200 deaths are conservative, with many cases not reported by traditional news sources.
“NNU believes many of these deaths would have been prevented if greater effort had been made to plan for and overcome the pitfalls of just-in-time supply chain management. Scaling up the capabilities for the stockpiling and rapid distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) must be among the highest priorities of the hospital and nursing home industries and federal and state agencies going forward,” it said.
In another report by GMA News, the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on March 20, called for the resignation of Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque III as they cite the surging number of COVID-19 cases among nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers.
“We hope that our leadership be replaced by a more competent secretary of Health. Sec. Duque must resign for the betterment of our health,” the FNU said in a statement, with the group also mourning the deaths of its colleagues (at the Philippine Heart Center and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute) who reportedly succumbed to COVID-19.
“We are extremely alarmed at the increasing number of nurses, doctors and other health workers especially those in the frontline, being infected by COVID-19, with 5,355 nurses comprising 36 percent of the 14,963 infected cases of health workers,” the FNU said, citing data from the DOH.
FNU has also labelled as “worrisome” the surging COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila in recent days, with not lower than 3,000 cases reported and the all-time high record of 7,999 new infections on March 20.
The group also noted that the country is facing a “heightened public health disaster as the government declared a state of calamity,” adding health workers are “suffering from the burden of this uncontrolled pandemic of more than a year, with no end and improvement in sight.”
“We refuse to be sacrificial lambs for this pandemic. We are humans and we need to be cared for. We should be saved from this national calamity and public health disaster,” the FNU said as they also called for uniformed men and personnel to step aside and be replaced by medical experts knowledgeable in medicine and public health disaster.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), on the other hand, is urging the DOH to make a comprehensive plan of action to address the pandemic and the “worsening condition of healthcare workers.”
“Mr. President, COVID-19 is not a small thing because extreme hardship, sacrifice, and many from our fellow health workers have laid down their lives just to combat the infectious disease,” AHW National President Robert Mendoza said in a separate statement.
According to the group as of press time, 14 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 at the San Lazaro Hospital, 29 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, 15 at the Tondo Medical Center, 200 at the Philippine Heart Center, 27 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, while 32 have tested positive at the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, 26 at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, seven each at the Philippine Orthopedic Center and the National Children’s Hospital, 30 at the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, and 23 at the National Center for Mental Health.