California hospital reports spike in staff COVID-19 infections

Sonoma (Calif.) Valley hospital reported that 80 percent of its staff members exposed or showing COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks of July, marking a large increase from recent past months, the Sonoma Index-Tribune reported Aug. 15. 

"All hospital staff are tested regularly when symptomatic, and the percent that test positive for COVID in the recent past has been between 10 [percent] and 30 [percent]," Joshua Rymer, chair of the Sonoma Valley Hospital board of directors, said in its August report. "In July, that number rose dramatically, and we continue to follow protocols in sending staff who test positive home for 10 days to ensure they are not infectious."

Ninety-seven percent of the hospital's staff is fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The remaining 3 percent have valid exemptions. 

As of Aug 12, less than 20 percent of staff had tested positive for the virus. However, John Hennelly, president and CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital, said he expects cases to continue rising. 

"This is a national problem," Mr. Hennelly told the publication. "People are not prioritizing masking and social distancing like we did in 2020 and 2021. The consequence is the virus moves more easily."

The hospital has been able to remain fully functional, but staffing has been a significant concern, as many staff members have picked up extra shifts to fill in for those who tested positive, according to the article. 

Editor's note: This article was updated Aug. 17 at 10:00 a.m. CT that clarify that 80 percent of symptomatic staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in July, not 80 percent of all staff members. 


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