Doctor documenting all health care workers killed by COVID-19, data no agency is accurately tracking

Investigations

(Nexstar DC photo)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The pandemic has taken a huge toll on health care workers, but we don’t know exactly how many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Many states, including Florida, are not reporting the data. But, as 8 On Your Side found out, one woman is attempting to document every single health care worker death.

Dr. Claire Rezba is anesthesiologist in Richmond, Virginia.

“At first it started as that a form of catharsis, to sort of manage the anxiety I felt,” said Dr. Rezba. “Now it feels more like an obligation to them.”

The anesthesiologist has been on a mission since late March. Each night, Dr. Rezba searches the internet for the new health care victims of coronavirus: Hospital janitors, cooks and administrators.

“I go through GoFundMe to find nurses or health care workers,” said Dr. Rezba. “I’ll cross-reference that with obituaries Facebook, hospital records.”

Once a coronavirus death is confirmed, Dr. Rezba tweets their name, story and sacrifice.

To date, no state or federal agency is accurately tracking this data. Dr. Rezba feels this is another failure of the system.

“If you don’t know who is dying, you can’t stop it from happening,” said Dr. Rezba.

“How many health care workers have we lost to this by your count?” investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi asked.

“I’m up to about 900, give or take,” said Dr. Rezba.

She says they’re coronavirus casualties that were overlooked – until now.

“It really upset me that people were dying and their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families weren’t really being recognized or honored,” said Dr. Rezba.

You can visit Dr. Rezba’s Twitter page to see her documentation of health care worker deaths.

The Florida Department of Health says they’re not tracking how many health care workers and support staff we’ve lost in hospitals.

According to online data provided, we know COVID-19 has killed 50 staff members in Florida’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Here’s the full initial statement from the Department of Health spokesman Alberto Moscoso:

The Department of Health tracks, investigates and reports every case of COVID-19 in Florida, regardless of the patient’s profession. Case information for every Florida case is updated daily and available here.

When the Department receives notification that a person has tested positive for COVID-19, we conduct an extensive epidemiological investigation to identify individuals who may have had close contact with the virus. Those individuals are instructed to self-isolated for 14 days following their exposure to the virus.

This process is followed for every individual who tests positive in Florida, including those in the health care field.”

Here’s the second statement from Mr. Moscoso, sent after we asked specifically if the state was tracking or publicly reporting the deaths of health care workers:

Information for every reported case of COVID-19 in Florida is available on the statewide line list. The department does not report occupational information for COVID-19 cases.”

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