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Kaiser fined for COVID-19 violations prior to San Jose outbreak

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – Another Kaiser health care location has been cited for violating COVID-19 protocols and it turns out some of the fines pre-date a significant outbreak last month in San Jose.

Cal OSHA has confirmed that the hospital was fined for violating COVID-19 reporting guidelines before an emergency room outbreak on Christmas day.  

Kaiser was fined $85,000 for failing to immediately report details related to an employee who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in March of last year.  

Cal OSHA says Kaiser’s Antioch facility has also been cited and fined $56,000 for failing to report similar employee hospitalizations in April and May of 2020. 

Santa Clara County has since fined Kaiser San Jose $43,000 in connection with the Christmas day outbreak. 

In a statement, Kaiser disputed the fines and said in part:

“The Cal/OSHA citations stem from last year, in the spring. Kaiser Permanente disputes these allegations and the citations will be appealed. Importantly, they have absolutely nothing to do with what may have occurred at Kaiser Permanente San Jose on December 25.”

The statement suggests some of the earlier fines are related to labor groups advocating for policy changes.  

Kaiser’s Antioch location was also cited for lacking sufficient screening protocols, improper social distancing in breakrooms, and failing to notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19.  

Kaiser and other health care providers are required to report positive test results within four hours, said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.

“To provide that information that allows us to identify first of all whether there is an outbreak, which means multiple cases within the same time period that merits an investigation at the worksite and allows teams to engage with that employer or that entity to see, learn more about what happened, to make sure that there’s contact tracing that’s occurring, that people are quarantining, if there are other steps to be taken,” Williams said. 

The health department says it has not ruled out additional fines in connection with the Christmas Day outbreak, which may have been caused by a well intentioned employee.

The number of cases has gone up from 44 to a total of 92 — 77 staff members, and 15 patients.

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