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San Jose Kaiser employee dies of COVID after outbreak, 44 infected

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — One Kaiser Permanente employee died of COVID-19 after an outbreak apparently caused by an air-powered costume.

44 staff members at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center Emergency Department tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1, senior vice president and area manager Irene Chavez confirmed.

The employee who died was working on Christmas Day, according to a statement by Kaiser, which is when an employee had come into the emergency room wearing a festive air-powered costume.

Kaiser Permanente said any exposure would have been accidental as the person had no COVID symptoms.

An employee working in the Emergency Department at San Jose Medical Center on Dec. 25 has passed away as a result of COVID-19 complications. Out of respect for patient privacy and the family, we have no additional information to provide. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this terrible loss. We are providing support to our employees during this difficult time.

Kaiser Permanente statement to KRON4

The outbreak is being investigated and officials are using contact tracing to notify and test any staff or patients who were exposed during the time period.

“The individual had no COVID symptoms and only sought to lift the spirits of those around them during what is a very stressful time. 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,” Chavez said in a statement.

Chavez says air-powered costumers will no longer be allowed at the facilities.

Emergency Department staff who received a first dose of the vaccine less than 10 days ago would not be expected to be immune to the virus at the time of the exposure.

Health officials say it is important to note that you must receive the two doses of the vaccine to be protected.

Employees confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 will not report to work.

All areas in the Emergency Department are undergoing deep cleaning.

Nearly 40,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers in Northern California have already received COVID-19 vaccinations, and more are anticipated soon.

No other details were immediately available.

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