This one chart should end all of the comparisons between COVID-19 and the flu. Pass it on.

The Associated Press published a sobering article this morning. According to their calculations, the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019. U.S. deaths increase most years. An annual rise in fatalities is expected but not by the amount reported so far this year. The 2020 numbers a 15% increase and should go higher once all the deaths from December are counted.

Despite the numbers staring people in the face, many COVID-19 deniers continue to fall back on the argument that it’s just like the flu and little (if any) cause for concern. It’s consistent with the overarching strategy of underplaying the pandemic and its effects.

Take for example, this tweet from Blaze talking head Steve Deace:

Or this beauty Courtney Kirchoff, also a Blaze personality:

Now, obviously, they aren’t the only people still dry-humping the just-like-the-flu horse. They’re just two that I grabbed from my timeline. It’s astonishing that, after almost a year, the gaslighting surrounding COVID-19 has evolved so little (unlike the latest UK strain of the coronavirus which somehow managed 17 concurrent mutations, something unheard of until now).

Getting back to the AP story.

The problem with using overall fatalities to elucidate the severity of COVID-19 is that deniers insist that most COVID-19 fatalities actually die from their comorbidities and not from the virus itself. They refuse to take into consideration that the patient’s descent is triggered and driven by SARS-CoV-2 infections, insisting on a narrow definition of a COVID-19 fatality.

It’s a strange piece of logic since, according to their definition of a fatality, nobody has ever actually died from HIV/AIDS since the virus itself did not directly kill them. All those people, all those years… Nobody has actually died from AIDS. That’s pretty amazing.

Anyway, there’s a better way to compare COVID-19 and the flu. Take a close look at the courageous men and women caring for the sick. Healthcare workers. How have they fared during the pandemic?

Luckily for us, the United States Department of Labor has just released their annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). According to their report, 56 healthcare practitioners and technical workers (for example radiologists or phlebotomists) died as a result of their work. On top of that an additional 38 healthcare support workers such as nursing home workers died.

According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates, 287,010 healthcare workers have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 and 958 have lost their lives as a result. However, their records are not even close to being complete. It is based on the status of 19.23% of total healthcare personnel. And of those 287,010 cases, the death status was only available for 75% of them.

However, because of the statistical and data collecting mess federal agencies have been, there are a number of groups who have sought to independently determine the extent healthcare workers have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to one estimate made by Dr. Claire Rezba, over 1,200 healthcare workers have died since the pandemic began in February.

A more detailed approach was taken by the National Nurses United (NNU). According to their report, over 1700 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 related causes. Rather than relying on official government numbers — which they accuse of undercounting fatalities — their researchers studied media reports, social media, obituaries, union memorials, federal and state reporting, and NNU internal reporting to confirm their figures.

A joint effort by The Guardian and Kaiser Health calculates the number of healthcare worker deaths at 1463. This includes most employees that work in hospitals including janitorial staff, food service workers, and social workers because they put themselves at risk simply by showing up to work since the virus can be spread through the air.

In terms of methodology, The Guardian/Kaiser Health report was compiled as follows:

Journalists have identified healthcare worker deaths by reviewing websites including, GoFundMe, Medscape and memorial pages hosted by healthcare worker unions including AFSCME, National Nurses United, Health Professionals and Allied Employees and others. Cases have been added by exploring memorial pages on Facebook as well as @CTZebra and other handles on Twitter.

Visualizing the disparity between healthcare worker occupational fatalities during normal years and this pandemic year is the best way to understand just how different and tragic 2020 has been.

Whichever statistic you look at, even the undercounted CDC one, the number of healthcare occupational fatalities in 2020 dwarf past years.

But it’s just the flu, right?

WORDS: Marc Landas

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