23 staff, 13 patients positive for COVID-19 after Massachusetts hospital employee visits virus hot spot

Thirteen patients and 23 employees at a Massachusetts hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 after an employee recently traveled to an out-of-state virus hot spot area, The Boston Herald reports. 

The outbreak occurred in a non-COVID unit at Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Health President and CEO Mark Keroack, MD, said during a July 27 news briefing.

Hospital staff members had gathered in break rooms without wearing masks or observing social distancing protocols.

"These simple lapses were able to happen in spite of our screening employees for fever and other symptoms before every shift, mandating mask usage and social distancing throughout the facility," Dr. Keroack said. "This event reinforces that COVID-19 is highly contagious and requires vigilance in order to contain its spread."

Baystate Health has contacted all patients who were on the unit July 15-23. The hospital has also been testing employees and tracing their contacts. For the patients who tested positive, Baystate Health is conducting contact tracing with both the state and local health boards.

"We're deeply disappointed that this outbreak has occurred," Dr. Keroack said. "And we're committed to an ongoing review of our safety practices to ensure that they're aligned with the current guidelines and science."

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