Experts fear the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surveillance of COVID-19 cases and deaths among healthcare workers are under-counting the impact on the front lines, which could obscure the scope fo the pandemic as it hits the front lines.
According to CDC numbers, more than 63,000 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 and 307 have died from the virus as of Friday.
But those figures are based on information received from a relatively small pool of test reports. The vast majority of the data collected lacks key information about the occupational status of those getting tested for the coronavirus.
That lack of detail obfuscates the toll COVID-19 is having on the approximaetly 18 million people in the national essential healthcare workforce.
"We don't know when healthcare workers are contracting COVID and even dying of COVID," said Dr. Alison Haddock, a member of the board of directors for the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The CDC's estimates were based on data collected from test reports from more than 1.3 million people. But only 288,000, or 21%, of the test reports included information about whether the person tested was a healthcare worker. Among cases involving healthcare personnel, death status information was only available for 57%, or approximately 36,000 cases.
That data make up a tiny fraction of the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths that have occurred in the U.S. More than 101,000 people have died from COVID-19 as of Friday, according to the CDC, representing approximately 6% of the 1.7 million reported cases.