1 dead in hospital COVID outbreak possibly caused by inflatable costume


(NEXSTAR) – An employee working in the emergency department at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center has died due to COVID-19 complications after an outbreak at the hospital, a representative said.

An air-powered holiday costume is being cited as a potential cause of the COVID-19 outbreak that infected 44 staff members at the hospital between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, according to local media reports.

“Any exposure, if it occurred, would have been completely innocent, and quite accidental, as the individual had no COVID symptoms and only sought to lift the spirits of those around them during what is a very stressful time,” Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, told the Los Angeles Times. 

Chavez said air-powered costumes will no longer be allowed at the facility and that the hospital is “taking steps to reinforce safety precautions among staff, including physical distancing and no gathering in break rooms, no sharing of food or beverages, and masks at all times.”

The hospital is notifying and testing any individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and is asking those who may be infected to stay home. Kaiser said it plans to test all emergency department workers and that its emergency department is being cleaned. 

There are currently more than 2 million coronavirus cases in California. Over 26,000 people in the state have died of the virus.

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