If you are a Filipino American, it is highly likely that you know lots of nurses and other medical workers. It also is highly likely that news that that Filipino American nurses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 Pandemic would not surprise you. Then again, medical workers of all ethnic groups have been hit in some way (like the Khanna family, an Indian American family of five doctors that lost two members to the virus) and not just through harassment and discrimination. What makes Filipino Americans different particularly hard hit? I’d say it is a couple of different factors, both cultural and economic, some mentioned by the Stats News article and another that I think that they missed.
First, as the article points out, Filipinos, as part of the global supply chain for medical workers, make up proportionately more of the health care worker pool than their population in the US and beyond, including places like the UK, where a number of Filipino medical workers have died. My cousins are nurses in New York, and the husband of one of them is medical technician who contracted the virus (we are thankful that he recovered and went back to work). I would like to point out that it is not just doctors or nursing getting sick, but workers like my cousin’s husband, administrative staff members, and others. One Filipino maintenance worker we know at the hospital where The Wife works ended up on a ventilator because of the virus – one of 14 maintenance workers who contracted the virus. He also got better.
The article also mentions that many Filipino Americans live in multi-generational households, which adds other stresses, like concerns about bring the virus home to young children, grandchildren or vulnerable elderly parents and grandparents. I have heard that concern from Filipino nurses I know, one who has an both elderly parent and a young grandchild at home. Some ended up staying in “Covid” hotels provided to them so that they don’t infect their family.
One other factor that the article doesn’t mention is that many Filipino Americans suffer from hypertension and diabetes, diseases that make a person much more vulnerable to the coronavirus. This is factor that probably affected Indian American health workers also.
It seems that the coronavirus deaths have peaked in the US, at least for the moment. Let’s hope the cases stay down, for all of our sakes and especially for medical workers.