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Inflatable Christmas holiday costume blamed for Covid outbreak among 43 staff at San Jose hospital

A Covid-19 outbreak among staff at a California hospital might be tied to an inflatable costume worn on Christmas to cheer up patients.

At least 43 staff members tested positive for the virus between 27-31 December, according to a statement from Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center.

The hospital’s emergency department has been deep-cleaned, and all infected staff members are isolating.

The hospital is looking into whether the fan on an “air-powered costume” could have spread droplets 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.

Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center will no longer allow such costumes in its facility, the statement said.

Although nearly 40,000 Kaiser Permanente health-care workers in Northern California have already received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to Chavez, the outbreak in San Jose was a reminder that it takes time to build immunity.

None of the staff members who tested positive will return to work, though the hospital said it has been engaging additional staff as part of its preparations.

Hospitals around the States are racing to keep up with the surging Covid-19 patients at numbers they have not seen at any other time in the pandemic.

READ: Hospitals in the United States on the brink of collapse amid skyrocketing Covid-19 cases