SAN JOSE – The Christmas coronavirus epidemic at Kaiser Permanente San Jose continued to spread on Tuesday – and hospital staff aren’t the only ones getting sick.
For the first time, 15 patients were added to a growing list of people infected on Tuesday after an emergency worker caught in an inflatable tree may have been a super distributor on Dec. 25, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said. .
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 also rose among Kaiser employees to 77 on Tuesday, up from 60 last week, the county said. A receptionist died a week or so after Christmas, although Kaiser did not say exactly when.
As for the new numbers released on Tuesday, Kaiser Permanente would only say that “we are trying to check the numbers provided by the county.”
The news comes after the county fined Kaiser $ 43,000 last week for failing to notify employees immediately of the original 43 cases, which it published more than a week later – imposing a $ 1,000 fine on each case.
Several agencies are investigating the outbreak, including the State Department of Public Health and Cal / OSHA and Santa Clara County. In a news release in early January, Kaiser suggested that the source may have been a well-meaning employee who spread a festive mood. The woman in the suit was not showing any symptoms at the time, but was positive shortly thereafter.
Coronavirus experts say the man in the suit may have been an unknown super-distributor – most people are most contagious before they show symptoms, and a fan in an inflatable suit could easily open and spread the virus.
But because hospital staff are required to wear masks and some workers who began duty later that day also fall ill, many questions remain as to whether there could have been another source of the outbreak.
A patient who spoke to the news organization said she was discharged from the emergency department on December 24, the day before the costumed woman appeared. But she is also positive for the virus and is convinced that she became infected with Kaiser.