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Thread: Inflatable Christmas Tree led to Covid-19 outbreak

  1. #1
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    Inflatable Christmas Tree led to Covid-19 outbreak

    https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/coro...break/2435694/

    At least 44 emergency staff members at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose tested positive for COVID-19 within the past week, according to the hospital, and on Sunday it was confirmed one of those workers had died.

    According to the statement released by Kaiser on Sunday, an employee working in the emergency department on Christmas Day died as a result of complications from COVID-19.

    Employees at Kaiser confirmed that the woman who died was a registration clerk in the emergency department. Her co-workers described her as an "absolutely wonderful woman."

    All 44 people infected worked in the ER on Christmas Day, officials confirmed.

    The hospital is investigating whether an incident in which a staff member appeared briefly in the emergency department on Christmas Day wearing an air-powered costume with a fan may have led to air droplets being spread around the hospital.

    ?Using our infection proven protocols, we are investigating the outbreak and using contact tracing to personally notify and test any staff or patients who were exposed during this time period based on CDC and public health guidelines,? a spokesperson said in a statement.

    The hospital says it will no longer allow air-powered costumes at any facilities.

    Kaiser said the employee wearing the costume did not have symptoms at the time, and was only trying to lift spirits during a stressful time. But one ER employee who asked not to be identified said there may be another reason for the outbreak.

    ?They were doing respiratory treatments inside a room that they?re not supposed to,? the employee said.

    The hospital said that the emergency department is undergoing a deep cleaning, and officials said that the hospital is open and safe for patients to receive care.

    But the employee said that Kaiser?s claim that they were doing a deep-clean of the department after the outbreak was untrue.

    ?That?s a lie,? the employee said. ?All they did was come in and do a deep cleaning of the small break room. They didn?t do the other parts of the emergency department and there was no deep cleaning.?

    The hospital is working to quickly test all emergency department employees and doctors for the virus, and anyone who tests positive or who has symptoms will quarantine per Centers for Disease Control guidelines, hospital officials said.

    However, several healthcare workers told NBC Bay Area that they don?t feel the hospital is doing enough to protect them. Some staff members said that regular testing was not being done.
    Even as the vaccine is beginning to be provided in our communities, given the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community 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,? the statement read.

    Kaiser said some of the healthcare workers infected had received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, but they would not have been expected to reach immunity when the exposure occurred.

    The hospital has responded to comments made by employees that it wasn't taking the proper safety measures against the virus, saying that it's following CDC protocol and testing all emergency department staff.

    The hospital said that the deep clean is ongoing and that patients who may have been exposed are being contacted by telephone.

    On Sunday, the Santa Clara County Health department issued a statement on the outbreak.

    ?The Public Health Department is aware of and currently investigating a significant COVID-19 outbreak associated with the Kaiser San Jose Emergency Department," the statement read. "Kaiser is responsible for complying with all applicable public health orders and work safety regulations, including those issued by Cal/OSHA. This includes timely reporting of cases and all required follow-up."

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    Who died? This might be an "additional info needed" article.

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    https://abc7news.com/kaiser-outbreak...id-19/9386112/

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Kaiser Permanente is investigating a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed one and infected dozens of employees at a San Jose hospital after Christmas.

    The hospital told ABC7 News that the spread "may" have been connected to an employee who appeared briefly in the emergency department wearing an "air-powered costume" on Christmas Day.

    Fifty-one staff members at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center's emergency department tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 5, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Public Health Department.

    The staff member who died passed away from COVID-19 complications and was working in the emergency department on Dec. 25, the hospital confirmed with ABC7 News on Sunday night. Out of respect for the patient's family and privacy, hospital officials are not releasing more information.

    RELATED: Ambulances wait hours to offload patients as Santa Clara County hospitals burdened with soaring COVID-19 cases

    "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," Chavez said. "If anything, this should serve as a very real reminder that the virus is widespread, and often without symptoms, and we must all be vigilant."

    We asked UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong about how an inflatable costume could contribute to the spread of the virus.

    "These random air currents from the leak, in concert with the random movements creates an unpredictable flow," said Chin-Hong. "Airflow on droplets can give these droplets super powers, make them smaller and lighter, and keep them suspended in the air and potentially blow them around. That's what we call aerosol generation."

    As for vaccinations, the emergency department staff at the hospital was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine less than 10 days ago. The hospital says they "would not be expected to have reached immunity when this exposure occurred. It is important not only for everyone to get vaccinated, but to receive the required two doses of vaccine to be protected."


    The hospital adds that the emergency department is still open and safe to receive care. All areas of the department are undergoing a deep cleaning along with routine cleaning. . An ongoing investigation and contact tracing among staff and patients are underway.

    "Obviously, we will no longer allow air-powered costumes at our facilities," Chavez told ABC7 News. "At the same time, we are 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 first reported 43 staff members had tested positive on Saturday. A day later, officials on Sunday afternoon said the number of infected emergency employees rose to 44.

    Read the hospital's full statement from Jan. 5 below:

    The health and safety of our patients, employees, and physicians is our highest priority. To date, we have determined 60 staff members out of those present in the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Emergency Department on Dec. 25 have tested positive for COVID-19. 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. Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities, it is often difficult to pinpoint the specific exposure leading to COVID-19 infection.

    In addition to HEPA filtering of the ventilation systems, which is known to be effective against the coronavirus, other precautions we have taken include deep cleaning and intensive disinfecting of the entire Emergency Department, including surfaces, equipment, and high touch areas in common spaces and patient care areas, and we have tested to determine these areas are sanitized. In addition, we implement regular rigorous cleaning, masks, symptom screening and temperature checks at the ED entrance; triage and appropriate isolation of anyone suspected with COVID-19; and ensure social distancing with precautions such as plexiglass cubes for patients in the waiting area.

    Our thoughts are with all of our valued staff members who have been affected by this situation, and we are continuing to provide the care and support they need.

    Our physicians have contacted all 70 patients who were treated and discharged from the Emergency Department on Dec. 25, and are answering any questions patients may have. COVID-19 tests are being made available to these patients, and physicians are assisting members with securing the test. All Kaiser Permanente members can also self-schedule a test online at kp.org. Due to patient privacy laws, we do not have further patient information to provide.

    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.

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    https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/loca...break/2437747/

    A second South Bay hospital on Tuesday reported a coronavirus outbreak in its emergency department.

    St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy confirmed 10% of its ER staff has tested positive in the past week. This comes on the heels of an outbreak at the San Jose Kaiser emergency department, which grew to 60 staff members Tuesday.

    St. Louise confirmed eight of its more-than-80 emergency department staff have tested positive for coronavirus since mid-December. A spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital system says, “...personnel in the Emergency Department are being tested more frequently, at least every three days, as a result of these recent cases. We will also be implementing daily rapid testing of Emergency Department personnel before their shift begins.”

    Employees at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center spoke out Tuesday about a lack of workplace COVID-19 testing following a deadly outbreak in the hospital's emergency department.

    At least 60 staff members at the hospital have tested positive since the outbreak began Christmas Day, including one who died, Kaiser said Tuesday. Several ER nurses told NBC Bay Area they feel if Kaiser had done routine testing of staff over the past several months, it might have prevented such a large outbreak.

    "I feel that this could have been either prevented or really minimized had testing been done prior," one employee said.

    On Christmas Day, an employee wearing an air-powered tree costume walked the hallways of the emergency department at the hospital. Kaiser said the costume "likely" is responsible for the employees getting COVID-19, including a registration clerk who died Sunday.

    Some nurses said they feel the employee who wore the costume has become a scapegoat. They also said before the outbreak, they were not tested regularly.

    Kaiser said prior to the outbreak it followed the Santa Clara County order and in a statement added, "Even though the order states that health care providers can ask workers to wait until 14 days between tests, we are offering our health care workers to be tested weekly if they wish."

    Kaiser nurses said the hospital did not make it easy for them to get tested in the way some other hospitals are doing.

    Since October, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O'Connor Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy have tested employees working directly with patients every two weeks. It's required.

    Juana Castillo, who works with Enterprise Employee Health at all three hospitals, said being proactive and consistent with testing has paid off.

    "We have a very low rate of positivity based on our asymptomatic testing of our employees," she said.

    Kaiser said it is testing all emergency department employees as part of its investigation of the outbreak.
    https://sfist.com/2021/01/05/kaiser-...asks-vaccines/

    A nurse at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose says that the co-worker who wore an inflatable Christmas costume to the ER was just "spreading joy," and this was not part of any party. At least 60 people were infected and one has already died, possibly because the costume's internal fan helped spread viral droplets farther than usual, and even though everyone was masked the entire time (and some had already received one vaccine dose but had not had enough time for it to take effect).

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    https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/...apacity-drops/

    SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — South Bay hospitals are operating in surge mode as emergency rooms are swamped with new patients.

    The full impact of post-holiday infection is yet to be seen as hospital capacity in Santa Clara County hovers around 8%.

    Currently, the number of ICU beds available is down to around two dozen for a county with almost two million people. Health officials are warning the surge is going to get worse before it gets better.

    “The staff is fatigued, they are tired, they are drained physically, emotionally and every\ way you can physically imagine,” Valley Medical Center E.R. Dr. Jeffrey Chien said.

    Dr. Chien pulled no punches in describing the grim picture in emergency rooms across the South Bay as hospitals struggle to cope with the spread of COVID-19 as ambulances arrive daily with new patients.

    “COVID is no joke, folks are struggling to breath,” Dr. Chien said. “Folks are gasping for breath, folks look like they are drowning while they are sitting there in bed in front of us.”

    The number of patients arriving by ambulance is up over 11%. EMS crews are waiting outside emergency rooms for up to two hours because there are not enough beds immediately available as residents are being asked to think twice before calling 911.

    “If you are going to be utilizing 911, we just ask that you think about it and say ‘OK, is this truly necessary or is there another avenue where I could seek care?'” EMS Duty Chief Daniel Franklin said.

    The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the county has gone from 100 in early November to more than 700 right now, putting a strain on all hospital resources, says VMC’s Dr. Ahmad Kamal.

    “As of right now, staff are being pulled from other areas of the hospital to provide care to critically ill patients,” Dr. Kamal said. “This means that other patients, who also have needs, are having to go without.”

    The impact of the Christmas and New Year holiday is still to come with more than 700 people already in the hospital sick with COVID-19.

    Surge plans are in full swing amid ICU bed capacity consistently below 10% with new cases and hospitalizations ten times higher than they were in November.

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    . SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — A new coronavirus variant has been found in the Bay Area, health officials announced Sunday.
    Officials say the L452R variant is linked to several outbreaks in Santa Clara County and was first identified last year in other countries and states.

    Santa Clara County Health Director Dr. Sara Cody confirmed the new variant was found in the Kaiser San Jose outbreak that infected dozens of people.



    The variant was also found in San Francisco.

    “The fact that this variant was identified in several large outbreaks in our county is a red flag and must be investigated further,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. “This virus continues to mutate and adapt, and we cannot let down our guard. This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”

    This 452R variant is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

    The California Department of Public Health, along with Santa Clara County and UCSF announced the variant is increasingly being identified across California.

    The state is now working with the CDC, local public health departments and laboratory sequencing partners to learn more about the variant and how it spreads.

    “It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus,” CDPH Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said.

    The variant was found in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County, including outbreaks where very high numbers of people exposed contracted the virus.

    In addition to Santa Clara County and San Francisco, the 452R variant has been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties.

    “This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu. “Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”

    https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/...d-in-bay-area/

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    https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/...d-to-92-cases/

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The number of positive COVID-19 cases following the outbreak at Kaiser Permanente’s San Jose Medical Center continues to rise.

    On Tuesday evening, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced that the total number of positive cases is now at 92, with one waiting for verification.

    Staff positives: 78, with one staff who needs verification of positive lab
    Patients: 15 on the list
    Deaths: 1 reported death

    One employee died of COVID-19 after the outbreak reportedly caused by an air-powered costume.

    Health officials said, ‘this is a stark reminder that COVID-19 can be so easily transmitted through the air and that even letting your guard down for a moment can have consequences.’

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    https://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/e...ty-violations/

    In the span of just two weeks, the San Jose Kaiser Christmas Day outbreak sickened at least 77 employees and 15 patients with the coronavirus.

    One woman, an emergency department receptionist, died.

    Santa Clara County slapped the hospital with $43,000 in fines—$1,000 for every Covid-sick patient Kaiser failed to promptly report to public health officials. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched an investigation into the superspreader event. As did the California Department of Public Health.

    Health officials say the outbreak was one of several throughout the county linked to a new coronavirus variant, whose transmissibility and vaccine-resistance remain unknown.

    It’s one of the worst outbreaks in Santa Clara County, which is reporting an average of 1,262 new Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths per day.

    Though the official cause of Kaiser’s flare-up is still under review, the hospital has repeatedly cited an unnamed employee as a potential source of the outbreak. In statements to reporters over the past few weeks, Kaiser officials explained that the person’s air-inflated Christmas tree costume may have spewed Covid particles throughout the emergency ward.

    “The exact source of the outbreak is under investigation,” Irene Chavez, Kaiser’s senior vice president and area manager, said in a statement to San Jose Inside earlier this month. “A staff member did appear in the emergency department on Dec. 25 wearing an air-powered costume. This staff member did not have symptoms at the time, but subsequently tested positive.”

    But state records suggests the problem is far bigger than a single careless staffer.

    According to state regulators, San Jose Kaiser is one of California’s worst violators of pandemic safety mandates.

    Well before Santa Clara County hit Kaiser with financial penalties for late reporting earlier this month, Cal-OSHA fined the South Bay hospital $85,375 for seven offenses, four flagged as serious. The penalties stemmed from violations reported last spring, in the early days of the pandemic.

    Kaiser disputes all the charges.

    But it’s worth noting that Cal-OSHA levied some of the same late-reporting allegations recently raised by Santa Clara County.

    Records filed last fall for incidents reported between March and June also accuse the San Jose hospital of, among a slew of other things, failing to alert Cal-OSHA about Covid-19 cases in a timely manner, using unauthorized cleaning chemicals and for inadequate policies to limit aerosol-transmissible disease exposure.

    State regulators also say Kaiser failed to sufficiently train its San Jose employees on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19, failed to investigate exposures to the disease and failed to equip staff with the powered-air-purifying respirators needed to perform life-saving procedures on coronavirus patients.

    The problems appear to be widespread in the Bay Area-based healthcare company, which operates medical centers throughout the state.

    Cal-OSHA has cited a little more than 100 businesses for Covid-19 violations since the pandemic began. Kaiser hospitals make up 10 of those cases overall—with two of the company’s facilities ranking in the Top 10.

    The San Jose hospital at the center of the Christmas Day outbreak places seventh.

    Kaiser Oakland is eighth after Cal-OSHA issued $78,300 in fines for five violations.

    No other Bay Area hospital—or business, for that matter—comes close.

    Besides Kaiser, no employer in the nine-county region broke into the Top 10 of Cal-OSHA’s index of violators.

    The San Leandro Kaiser faces $87,500 in fines for—again, among other things—“failing to establish, implement and maintain an effective respiratory protection program in multiple instances” and “failing to ensure that employees used respirators” suitable for “high-hazard procedures … and suspected cases of Covid-19.”

    Like its Kaiser peers in other jurisdictions, the San Leandro hospital was also accused of failing to notify staffers who had “significant exposures to Covid-19” and failing to give them “post-exposure medical services.”

    Cal-OSHA also charged the hospital with “failing to immediately report” an employee’s hospitalization for Covid-19, which regulators call “a repeat violation.”

    Kaiser’s Redwood City Medical Center faces $39,685 in fines for similar allegations. Cal-OSHA charged the hospital for a lack of respirators and multiple failures to investigate, document, report and notify staff about significant Covid-19 exposures.

    Cal-OSHA fined Kaiser’s Behavioral Health Center in Santa Clara $11,200 for five violations. “Employer was cited for not fit-testing employees for respirator use and for not notifying employees of potential exposure incidents,” according to a Cal-OSHA summary of the violations. The agency also alleges “improper record-keeping” and ineffective controls to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

    In Santa Rosa, Kaiser was ordered to pay $55,350. In a log of the violations, Cal-OSHA wrote that the hospital was cited for “not implementing screening protocols for employees or patients entering the facility for Covid-19 symptoms.” The fine also relates to the hospital neglecting to investigate coronavirus cases, notify staff and offer required medical services to people exposed to the virus.

    Kaiser in San Francisco faces $16,400 in fines; Kaiser Antioch, $56,000; Kaiser Lancaster, $5,000; Kaiser San Diego, $1,535; Kaiser Ontario, $18,075.

    While Cal-OSHA casts the hospital corporation as a routine violator of safety standards, Kaiser officials deny every single allegation.

    “Each of these citations is under appeal by Kaiser Permanente and as such they should not be considered final determinations,” reads a statement emailed by a hospital spokesman. “They stem from allegations early in the pandemic, as healthcare systems including ours grappled with national shortages and evolving public health guidance.”

    The hospital also points a finger at labor unions.

    “Early in the pandemic, some advocacy groups undertook efforts to file OSHA complaints as part of their campaign to advocate for change in the then-current regulatory guidance—and filing complaints against Kaiser Permanente provided high visibility for these efforts,” the email goes on to state. “We understand that, but it doesn’t take away from the great work that has been done to care for our patients, keep our staff safe and comply with federal, state and local public health guidance under unprecedented circumstances.”

    This article has been updated to include additional comments from Kaiser about the Christmas Day outbreak and how the official cause remains under investigation.

    Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to jenniferw@metronews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

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    http://mydeathspace.com/vb/showthrea...virus-pandemic

    I will agree to merge with the general COVID-19 thread thanks because it went nowhere and the case in San Jose lead to general updates of Covid-19 in the San Francisco Bay Area from this report since I cannot find a specific person that died at the Kaiser Hospital as in the report.

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