The giant inflatable Christmas tree costume blamed for spreading COVID-19 to at least 44 California hospital staff, killing one, has been pictured on the wards.
At least 43 staffers have been infected with COVID-19 within the past week and officials are investigating whether the inflatable worn by an employee for the holiday may have caused the outbreak via its internal fan.
The staffers at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center Emergency Department tested positive between December 27 to January 1. The woman who died has not been named but was described as ‘absolutely wonderful’ by her colleagues.
Officials said a staffer briefly appeared at the emergency department on Christmas Day wearing an air-powered inflatable costume. The employee who wore the costume has not been revealed but it may have blown virus droplets across ward.
‘A staff member did appear briefly in the emergency department on December 25th wearing an air-powered costume,’ Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser’s San Jose Medical Center said to the San Francisco Chronicle.
‘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,’ she said.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious disease expert at UCSF told the paper: ‘They’re just acting as the mover of air in a huge way. It’s like a fan that’s kind of multidirectional and random.’
The giant inflatable Christmas tree costume blamed for spreading COVID-19 to at least 43 California hospital staff, killing one, has been pictured on the wards
At least 43 staffers at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center Emergency Department tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week and officials say an inflatable costume worn by a staffer on Christmas Day may be to blame
The emergency staff were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine less than 10 days ago, but the hospital said they ‘would not be expected to have reached immunity when this exposure occurred.’
Officials added: ‘It is important not only for everyone to get vaccinated, but to receive the required two doses of vaccine to be protected.’
Health officials say people must receive the two doses of the vaccine to be protected.
The hospital is now investigating the outbreak.
The hospital’s emergency department is still open and safe to receive patients and all areas of the department are undergoing a deep cleaning, while those infected go into isolation.
The emergency staff were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine less than 10 days ago, but the hospital said they ‘would not be expected to have reached immunity when this exposure occurred.’ A view of a Kaiser Permanente staffer getting vaccinated on December 14 above
‘Obviously, we will no longer allow air-powered costumes at our facilities,’ Chavez said.
‘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 said, as per ABC7.
DailyMail.com has reached out for further details.
Nearly 40,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente have already received COVID-19 vaccines and more are anticipated soon.
The state Department of Public Health on Sunday reported another 181 deaths and more than than 45,350 new confirmed COVID-19 cases across California, bringing the case total to nearly 2.4 million.
More than 26,530 people have died from the virus in California, making it the third state to exceed 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, behind New York with nearly 38,000 deaths and Texas with more than 27,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 20,600 people were hospitalized across California as of Sunday with COVID-19; 4,500 of them were in intensive care, according to state records.