Health care workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, more likely to report using inadequate or reused protective gear, and nearly twice as likely as white colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus, a new study from Harvard Medical School researchers found.
The study also showed that health care workers are at least three times more likely than the general public to report a positive COVID test, with risks rising for workers treating COVID patients.
Dr. Andrew Chan, a senior author and an epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the study further highlights the problem of structural racism, this time reflected in the front-line roles and personal protective equipment provided to people of color.
“If you think to yourself, ‘Health care workers should be on equal footing in the workplace,’ our study really showed that’s definitely not the case,” said Chan, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School.
The study was based on data from more than 2 million COVID Symptom Study app users in the U.S. and the United Kingdom from March 24 through April 23. The study, done with researchers from King’s College London, was published in the journal The Lancet Public Health.