Massachusetts hospital COVID-19 outbreak may be tied to employees eating together

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases among Holyoke (Mass.) Medical Center employees is believed to be linked to staff members eating together while on break, TV station WWLP reported.

Spokesperson Rebecca MacGregor confirmed to Becker's that a cluster of employees began to show COVID-19 symptoms about two weeks ago, and 15 employees tested positive. She said 10 of the employees were exclusively connected to the emergency department, and at least two were medically cleared to return to work this week.

Hospital officials believe the outbreak originated in a break room where staff members were eating.

CEO Spiros Hatiras told Western Mass News: "We think we traced it back to employees eating a meal together in a break room, and obviously when you are eating a meal, you take your mask off and they contracted it from one employee who was positive."

Holyoke Medical Center has implemented new policies, according to Ms. MacGregor, including capacity limits in all break rooms.

"We would like to stress that Holyoke Medical Center is continuing to safely provide the high quality care our community expects. People should continue to feel comfortable choosing Holyoke Medical Center for their care," she said.

The medical center has 1,200 employees, according to its website


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