NEW YORK – Between 10% and 20% of U.S. coronavirus cases are health care workers, though they tended to be hospitalized at lower rates than other patients, officials reported Tuesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first national data on how the pandemic is hitting doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
The data is important new information but not necessarily surprising, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is running the federal agency's response to the outbreak. Medical staff have also been hit hard in other countries: Media reports said about 10% of cases in Italy and Spain were health care workers.
As of the middle of last week, the CDC had reports of more than 315,000 cases in the U.S. The new report focused on about 49,000 for which researchers had data on whether or not they worked in health care. About 9,300, or 19%, of them were medical professionals. That included 27 who died. Among those 27, 10 were 65 years old or older.
A nurse from South Florida is believed to have died from coronavirus complications. News4Jax news partner WPLG in Miami was given a family photo of 33-year-old Danielle Dicenso, who last worked over two weeks ago. She was tested for COVID-19 amid growing concerns of the virus. Her husband said the results were inconclusive. He then said she died in her sleep last week.
Researchers said the data on health care workers with COVI-19 varied in how complete it was. In 12 states that did a better job reporting on whether patients worked in medicine, around 11% of cases were health care workers.
Compared with U.S. cases overall, larger proportions of diagnosed health care workers were women, were white, and were young or middle-aged adults. That's consistent with the demographics of who works in health care, researchers said.
About 10% of the health care workers were hospitalized with symptoms, compared with 21% to 31% of overall cases. That may reflect the younger age of the workers, as well as prioritization of testing for health care employees, the report said. Of those who were hospitalized, up to 5% were admitted to intensive care.
Of those infected health care workers who provided personal info, 73% were women. The median age was 42.
Slightly more than half of a group of infected health care workers studied said their only known exposure to the virus was at work, but researchers say it’s hard to know for sure how different people caught the bug.
A second report released Tuesday looked at three health care workers who became infected after treating a patient in Solano County, California, in what was one of the first instances of disease spread to medical personnel in the U.S. Workers didn’t initially know the patient was infected with the coronavirus. All three did not wear eye protection or some other forms of protective equipment at least part of the time they were caring for the person, researchers said.
To protect those on the front lines, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida is distributing one million N-95 face masks and other personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
“In addition to those masks, Florida’s Emergency Management Department is making a delivery over the next 36 hours of even more PPE. This delivery will include another 1.2 million procedure masks, 100,000 face shields, 500,000 gloves, 60,000 containers of hand sanitizer, 35,000 gowns,” DeSantis Said.
The governor also said that is the largest shipment of equipment from the division in Florida’s history. In all, state leaders said, Florida has spent about $500 million on emergency supplies and support for the pandemic.