Inflatable costume could be behind virus outbreak at San Jose hospital

Coronavirus California COVID-19

43 employees tested positive for novel Coronavirus after a staffer wore an inflatable costume on Christmas to cheer up patients

A hospital in California is facing a COVID-19 outbreak among its staff that might have been caused because of an inflatable costume worn by a staff member on Christmas to cheer up patients.

At least 43 employees of the hospital tested positive for the virus between Dec. 27 and New Year’s Day, according to a statement from Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center on Saturday.

The emergency department of the hospital has been deep-cleaned, and all infected staffers are isolating.

The hospital is looking into whether the fan on an “air-powered costume” could have spread droplets carrying virus after a staff member briefly wore it in the emergency department on Christmas Day.

“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,” the hospital said.

The statement said that the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center will no longer allow such costumes at the facility.

The Emergency department employees at the medical center who were able to get a vaccine were only given their first inoculation days prior to Christmas Day and would not have reached immunity by the time of the incident. None would have had their second booster shot by Christmas Day.

“During this period, even as vaccine is beginning to be provided in our communities, it is crucial that everyone continue to protect themselves and each other by continuing to use masks, hand washing, avoid gatherings, and practice social distancing,” the statement from the hospital said.

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