The coronavirus has killed over 1,700 healthcare workers in U.S.: nurses union
Health workers wear protective face masks. /Reuters

Health workers wear protective face masks. /Reuters

More than 1,700 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19 and related complications – after many of them said they didn't have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the country's largest nurses union.

The Sins of Omission report "How Government Failures to Track Covid-19 Data Have Led to More Than 1,700 Health Care Worker Deaths and Jeopardize Public Health," released by the American National Nurses United (NNU) on Monday also pointed out that healthcare workers of color in the nation have been disproportionately affected by deaths and infections and there's been a serious undercount of figures nationwide.

"While this figure for all healthcare workers is higher than has been reported elsewhere, NNU believes it is a conservative estimate. These cases have been documented by NNU using media reports, social media, obituaries, union memorials, federal and state reporting, and NNU internal reporting," the report states.

The report also condemns the failure of the U.S. government to "track and publicly report transparent, accurate, and timely data" on the coronavirus pandemic. The lack of "detailed, consistent data endangers the health and lives of nurses, other healthcare workers, and their patients."

"Comprehensive disclosure and transparency with respect to COVID-related healthcare worker deaths have been all too rare. These deaths frequently have been met with silence or outright denials. If hospitals are not widely required to publicly disclose their deaths and infection rates, they lack important incentives not to become zones of infection. We cannot allow the more than 1,700 deaths, many of them avoidable, to be swept under the rug, and vanished from our collective memory by the health care industry," the report said.

A president of NNU stated that 213 registered nurses in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 and related complications as of September 16. Among them, 58 percent were nurses of color.

"Most states report only a limited subset of COVID-19 data," said the report, adding that "At the federal level...the Trump administration has moved hospital COVID-19 data reporting from the CDC to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has hired private companies under nondisclosure agreements, keeping the majority of the data collected hidden from public downplay risks."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 156,306 cases of infections in the country's healthcare workers while NNU's count of the total number of infections is 166 percent higher than the CDC's at 258,768.

NNU urged the U.S. federal government to expand domestic production of PPE according the Defense Production Act of 1950, in which case, the country's health care workers can be safe while doing their jobs, the Fox News said.

"The ongoing failure to take action is costing the lives of registered nurses, other health care workers, and patients."the NNU's report states.

(With input from agencies)