By Daniel Lucey MD, MPH, FIDSA
Today, more somber statistics on the pandemic posted on the U.S. Centers Disease Control COVID-19 website:
Since the previous day, 54,357 new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were documented (of the total 2,679, 230 US cases in 2020, accordingly to the CDC).
Not surprisingly, as the number of hospitalizations is rising in multiple states including Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida, there were 725 new deaths reported (of the total 128,024 deaths in the United States in 2020, according to the CDC).
The alarming, underemphasized, and unsustainable number of infected U.S. healthcare workers today reached at least 90,626. Among this staggering number, at least 500 deaths have occurred.
These CDC figures, as somber and ominous as they are, do not capture the true higher numbers of cases and deaths. The reason is due to incomplete reporting, given that the CDC website states: “Data was collected from 2,260, 729 people, but healthcare personnel status was only available for 489,673 (21.7%) people. For the 90,626 cases of COVID-19 among healthcare personnel, death status was only available for 59,095 (65.2%).”
Why do healthcare personnel continue to become infected and to die? What must be done immediately to stop new infections of health care personnel? What can advocates of infectious diseases responses do now to deliver the answers to these questions?
Daniel Lucey, M.D. MPH, FIDSA, FACP, is an infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center, a senior scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neil Institute, Anthropology Research Associate, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee. He has served as a volunteer medical responder to outbreaks that included the West Africa Ebola crisis. He has collected information on outbreaks starting in 2001 with cases of anthrax in 2001, and including smallpox vaccination 2002, SARS 2003, H5N1 Flu 2004, MERS in 2013, and Ebola in April, 2014, he has gathered, and updated information on the spread of the coronavirus here since Jan. 6.