Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Thousands Of US Health Care Workers Have Been Infected By The Coronavirus. This Is How Each State Stacks Up.

Due to limited data, the true scale of health care worker infections is still unknown.

Last updated on April 10, 2020, at 4:06 p.m. ET

Posted on April 9, 2020, at 9:16 p.m. ET

Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters

Nurses at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division hospital hold a protest demanding N95 masks and other critical personal protective equipment to handle patients during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.

The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

At least 5,400 nurses, doctors, and other health care workers responding to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States have been infected by the disease, and dozens have died, according to a BuzzFeed News review of data reported by every state and Washington, DC. However, the true number is undoubtedly much higher, due to inconsistent testing and tracking.

Although President Trump claimed at a coronavirus task force press briefing on Monday that the number of infected workers would be made available, that total currently remains impossible to pin down. That’s both because health care workers are still struggling to access testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, if not being actively discouraged to do so, and because infections are being inconsistently tracked and in some cases uncounted at the state level.

Still, these early numbers show for the first time just how big a toll this pandemic is taking on the nation’s health care community, many of whom are treating sick people without adequate protective gear.

"After my shift, I was told we no longer can use two plastic gowns (1 for front and 1 for back), now the back one is replaced with a trash bag," a staffer in a Florida intensive care unit, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, told BuzzFeed News. "This is getting ridiculous."

According to the nursing union National Nurses United, at least 29 registered nurses have died nationwide, including 3 of their members, and 222 of their members have so far tested positive for COVID-19.

"We know these are underestimates," Stephanie Roberson, government relations director for the California Nurses Association, told BuzzFeed News. "It is just so sad."

BuzzFeed News reviewed health care worker infections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, surveying state coronavirus websites and following up with officials if the information was not readily available online.

As of Thursday afternoon, 12 states reported health care worker infections: Alabama (393), Arkansas (158), California (1,651), Idaho (143), Maine (97), New Hampshire (241), Ohio (1,137), Oklahoma (229), Oregon (153), Pennsylvania (850), Rhode Island (257), and West Virginia (76). Additionally, Washington, DC (29) and Hawaii (15) reported infections at a specific hospital, not state or territory-wide. On Friday afternoon, Kentucky reported 129 health care worker infections.

In Ohio and New Hampshire, health care worker infections represented more than 20% of total confirmed cases in the state. It’s unclear if this is due to health care workers having greater access to testing there compared to other states, or something else, but it highlights the dangers these workers face. In the other states that broke out data on health care workers, rates ranged from a low of nearly 5% in Pennsylvania up to 17% in Maine and Rhode Island.

Some other states are trying to collect this information but not yet sharing it publicly, with officials citing reporting holes in their data.

“There is a field on our case reporting form to collect the person’s occupation but it is not filled out consistently,” Lyndsey Rosales, a spokesperson at Texas Department of State Health Services, told BuzzFeed News in an email. “We have determined that the data is too incomplete to release and would grossly underrepresent the number of cases in health care workers.”

And in at least nine states, infection rates among health care workers are not being tracked at all. That includes New York and Louisiana, two of the worst-hit states by the outbreak, where officials said they aren’t specifically collecting this information. In Michigan, another hard-hit state, 2,200 health care workers have reportedly been infected, yet the state itself is not tracking infections. (Because the reporting on these cases did not come from the state itself, BuzzFeed News is not including them in its total.) Fourteen states do not make these statistics publicly available and did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News as to its collection.

Meanwhile, health care workers are dying across the country. According to a roundup by Medscape, more than 30 US nurses, doctors, medical examiners, and others in the medical community have died after testing positive for the disease, from Florida to Michigan to New York.

Here’s a breakdown of how each state is tracking health care worker infections:

Alabama

So far, 393 health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, or nearly 15% of confirmed cases in the state.

Alaska

Alaska does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Arizona

“We are not reporting cases by profession at this time,” Holly Poynter, an Arizona Department of Health Services spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

Arkansas

So far, 158 health care workers have been infected by the coronavirus, or nearly 14% of confirmed cases. The state will soon be publishing this information online each day, according to Danyelle McNeill, an Arkansas Department of Health spokesperson.

California

As of April 8, 1,651 health care workers in the state had tested positive for COVID-19. This represents a steep jump from previously reported numbers. That’s because this week the state started reporting health care workers who were both infected on and off the job, compared to previously only reporting workers “who had a confirmed case that was acquired while on the job.”

Colorado

“We don't have data on healthcare workers who have tested positive easily available,” a Colorado health department official told BuzzFeed News in an email. “We do already ask if a test is for a healthcare worker, but right now our information on that is incomplete, so we cannot provide numbers at this time.”

Connecticut

Connecticut does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Delaware

“We can say that there are health care workers who have tested positive, but we are not tracking that specific number for statistical purposes at this time,” John Petersen, of the Delaware Joint Information Center, told BuzzFeed News in an email. “We expected positive cases among health care workers as they are [at a] higher risk for exposure as they are working directly with individuals with illness.”

Florida

"At this time, we do not have case data broken down by employer or profession," according to a spokesperson from the Florida State Emergency Operations Center.

"When the Department of Health receives notification that a person has tested positive for COVID-19, the department conducts an extensive epidemiological investigation in conjunction with the CDC to identify individuals who may have had close contact with the virus...Each epidemiological investigation includes an extensive contact tracing aspect, where employment is a vital component for identifying close contact."

At least one nurse and a doctor have died after getting infected with the novel coronavirus, the Miami Herald reported.

Georgia

Georgia is not currently tracking this information, according to a Georgia Department of Public Health spokesperson. At least two state health care workers who tested positive for COVID-19 have died, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Hawaii

“The state is not providing that information publicly, but they are tracking it,” a state official told BuzzFeed News in an email. “Yesterday, the County of Maui announced 15 health care workers tested positive for COVID-19 at Maui Memorial Medical Center. However, other than the occasional announcement, there is no dashboard tallying those numbers for the media/public at this time.”

Idaho

Idaho has identified 143 cases of coronavirus in health care workers, or about 10% of total confirmed cases in the state.

Illinois

Information on health care worker infection is not publicly available, according to an Illinois official.

Indiana

Indiana officials do not currently have a breakdown of health care worker infections, but the state is looking at gathering and analyzing additional coronavirus data beyond what is currently posted online, according to a state official.

Iowa

Iowa does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Kansas

Kansas does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Kentucky

As of April 10, at least 129 health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 48 of them have likely recovered.

"Our health care workers are frontline heroes," Anya Weber, a state spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in an email. "They go to work every day knowing they may be exposed, but show up to care for others."

Louisiana

“The Louisiana Department of Health is not currently tracking data on COVID-19 specifically related to healthcare workers,” Sean Ellis, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Health, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

Maine

So far, 97 health care workers tested positive for COVID-19 in Maine, or 17% of total confirmed infections.

Maryland

“The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is continuously evaluating its data and reporting systems and will make updates to our dashboard as more data becomes available,” an agency spokesperson wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News. Maryland does not publish this information online.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not publish comprehensive health care worker infection data. Instead, officials share combined resident and health care worker infections in long-term care facilities; as of April 9, 1,633 such infections had been confirmed.

Michigan

“At this time, we are not specifically tracking this information,” Lynn Sutfin, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told BuzzFeed News in an email. About 1,500 employees at Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest hospital system, have tested positive for the disease, and more than 700 employees at Henry Ford Health System have been infected, according to Bridge Magazine.

Minnesota

Minnesota does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Mississippi

"We are tracking various data at this time. Check our website to see what is available,” Liz Sharlot, a Mississippi State Department of Health spokesperson, said in an emailed statement. The state does not publish this information online.

Missouri

“We are not tracking cases of COVID-19 by occupation, including health care workers,” Lisa Cox, a spokesperson for Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told BuzzFeed News in an email. At least one nurse in St. Louis has died of COVID-19, according to the St. Louis American.

Montana

Montana does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Nebraska

Nebraska does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Nevada

Nevada does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

New Hampshire

So far, 241 health care workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, about 29% of total reported infections.

New Jersey

New Jersey does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

New Mexico

"We do not keep a running tally of health care workers testing positive, but we do address each health care worker case and assure the contacts of that case are contacted and informed,” David Morgan, of the New Mexico Department of Health, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

New York

“The Department of Health does not collect occupational status when someone is tested in New York State. While we are prioritizing testing for health care workers, nursing home employees and first responders on the front lines, we do not have data of positive test results by occupation,” according to a statement provided by the state’s health department. At least one assistant nursing manager died after previously testing positive for COVID-19, according to the New York Post.

North Carolina

North Carolina does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

North Dakota

North Dakota does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Ohio

So far, 1,137 health care workers have tested positive for coronavirus in the state, or 21% of total confirmed infections.

Oklahoma

As of April 8, 229 health care workers had tested positive for COVID-19, or 15% of total confirmed infections.

Oregon

As of April 5, 14% of the 1,099 coronavirus infections identified then in the state came from health care workers.

Pennsylvania

As of April 9, 850 health care workers had tested positive for coronavirus in the state, or less than 5% of total confirmed infections.

Rhode Island

As of April 9, 257 health care workers had tested positive for the virus, or about 17% of total confirmed cases. “Early on, we were testing very specific priority populations,” including nursing home residents and health care workers, Joseph Wendelken, a Rhode Island health department spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News. The proportion of positive cases in health care workers was initially overrepresented, he said, and is “probably still artificially elevated.”

South Carolina

“The number of those who test positive and are employed in the medical field isn't required to be reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, however, we're working to investigate and compile additional data in the coming days and weeks,” according to a state official.

South Dakota

South Dakota does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Tennessee

“We are working to gather and track this data more systematically, but we do not have a comprehensive number available at this time,” said Bill Christian, a spokesperson at Tennessee’s Department of Health.

Texas

“There is a field on our case reporting form to collect the person’s occupation but it is not filled out consistently,” Lyndsey Rosales, a spokesperson at Texas Department of State Health Services, told BuzzFeed News in an email. “We have determined that the data is too incomplete to release and would grossly under represent the number of cases in health care workers.”

Utah

“At this time, we are not specifically tracking COVID-19 infections in health care workers,” Charla Haley, a Utah Department of Health spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

Vermont

Vermont does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Virginia

Virginia does not publish this information online and did not respond to a request from BuzzFeed News.

Washington

Washington officials are asking everyone confirmed to have COVID-19 about their profession, a state official previously told BuzzFeed News. But due to incomplete information, they are not currently sharing the information.

West Virginia

As of April 9, 76 health care workers were infected with COVID-19, or about 14% of total cases in the state.

Wisconsin

“We are exploring the data when it comes to infections in health care workers,” Elizabeth Goodsitt, a spokesperson for the state’s health department, wrote in an email. “We feel it would be irresponsible to provide you information that isn't accurate ahead of the validation that is being done.”

Wyoming

“We are working on data quality but intend to begin providing that information soon,” according to a Wyoming official.

Washington, DC

At least 29 employees of Saint Elizabeths Hospital have so far tested positive for coronavirus.

UPDATE

This story has been updated to include responses from Florida and Kentucky officials, as well as information on US nurse fatalities and infections provided by National Nurses United.



ADVERTISEMENT