SEATTLE — Hundreds of health care workers and dozens of first responders in Washington state have become sick with the coronavirus while on the job, according to workers’ compensation claims.
The new data provides some insight into how the coronavirus has impacted the health care community but underestimates how many doctors and nurses have tested positive.
That number is not known because state and federal health officials have failed to collect the information, and they’ve made no improvements since The Associated Press first reported the problem in April.
“Our data on occupations are not complete, so we do not report the information since it would not be reliable,” said Annie Johnson, a spokesperson for the Washington health department’s Joint Information Center.
Washington is not alone. States that reported coronavirus cases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control only included occupational information for 16% of all reported cases, the agency said in a new report.
Experts say knowing how COVID-19 is impacting front-line workers in the health care system is vital in handling the crisis.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.