Nursing ranks are filled with Filipino Americans. The pandemic is taking an outsized toll on them

As the coronavirus pandemic takes a devastating toll on health care workers, death notices published in recent weeks starkly show that it is hitting Filipino Americans — who make up an outsized portion of the nation’s nursing workforce — especially hard.

Filipinos are famous for, and justly proud of, their nursing acumen. The history of Filipino nurses in the United States is a long and complicated one, a symbiotic relationship borne of war and colonialism, and as some see it, racism and the exploitation of a critical medical workforce that has often been hesitant, because of cultural norms, to complain about poor workplace conditions. But some in the community are now speaking out.fil

An estimated 4%, or about 150,000, of nurses in the U.S. are Filipino, but in some regions they account for a much larger share of caregivers. In California, for example, nearly 20% of registered nurses are Filipinos. And because they are most likely to work in acute care, medical/surgical, and ICU nursing, many “FilAms” are on the front lines of care for Covid-19 patients.

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