Number of COVID-19 cases in Kaiser hospital outbreak rises to 60

A COVID-19 outbreak at Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente's San Jose hospital is linked to confirmed cases for 60 emergency department staff members, according to a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review.

San Jose (Calif.) Medical Center previously reported that 44 emergency department staff members tested positive between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, and one of those workers has died. As of Jan. 5, 60 staff members who worked in the emergency department on Dec. 25 have tested positive.

Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of San Jose Medical Center, said in a statement earlier this month that cases among employees may be tied to an air-powered, inflatable costume worn by a staff member on Christmas Day. The hospital continues to investigate.

"Working with our infectious disease specialists, we are continuing to investigate the outbreak to determine the potential causes and using contact tracing to personally notify and test anyone exposed, based on CDC and public health guidelines," Kaiser said. "Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities, it is often difficult to pinpoint the specific exposure leading to COVID-19 infection."

Since the outbreak, the hospital has prohibited air-powered costumes. The hospital has also done high-efficiency particulate air filtering of the ventilation systems as well as deep cleaning and intensive disinfecting of the emergency department, among other precautionary steps, Kaiser said. Additionally, Kaiser said the hospital implements regular cleaning, masks, symptom screening and temperature checks at the emergency department entrance and requires employees who have symptoms or test positive to self-quarantine at home. 

COVID-19 tests are being made available to the 70 patients who were treated and discharged from the San Jose Medical Center emergency department on Christmas Day.

"Because COVID-19 continues to be widespread, and is often without symptoms, we are all still vulnerable and it remains critical for everyone to continue using the methods to help protect ourselves and others — especially masks, hand washing, avoiding gatherings, and social distancing," Kaiser said.


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