Health Care Workers & COVID-19

Last updated by our Medical Anthropology & Epidemiology Team on 04.23.2021

Healthcare workers (HCWs) account for approximately 1 in 7 coronavirus cases recorded by the World Health Organization. Globally, around 14% of COVID-19 cases reported to WHO are among health workers, and in some countries it’s as much as 35%. Healthcare workers represent less than 3% of the population in most countries and less than 2% in almost all low- and middle-income countries.

Because of how COVID-19 is spread and the fact that individuals who contract the illness often go to emergency rooms, hospitals, and other healthcare settings, the healthcare workforce is at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general population. The US alone has had 3,507 healthcare workers die from COVID-19.

Of all healthcare workers, nursing home HCWs have been disproportionately impacted. As COVID-19 has ravaged nursing homes, it has also made working in these facilities the most dangerous job in America. Since the start of the pandemic, facilities have reported 760 COVID-19-related deaths among their staff (August 2, 2020).

While HCWs have been severely impacted by the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages of personal protective equipment, and increased demand, among other reasons, have greatly impacted rates of burnout, stress, and anxiety among this population. 

To mitigate the far reaching effects on individuals of this vital workforce, HCWs need multiple different supports. Some of these include space and equipment to keep themselves, their families, and others safe from infection or to self-quarantine in the event they become infected, but others include access to resources to manage the effects to their emotional, mental, and general wellbeing over the course of the pandemic. 

Without addressing these concerns and impacts to HCWs, burnout among this group will likely continue to rise which, if left untreated, will result in a second crises on the horizon caused by massive shortfall of HCWs.

For more detailed information regarding Healthcare workers and COVID-19, healthcare worker stress and burnout, how healthcare workers are coping during the pandemic, and the looming shortfall of healthcare workers due to pandemic burnout, view our presentations on these topics below.

Healthcare Workers and COVID-19

Healthcare Worker Stress & Burnout in the Pandemic

Ways Healthcare Workers Try to Cope

Impending Burnout & Shortfall Crises