A group of COVID-19 cases within Brigham and Women’s Hospital rose to 28 confirmed cases in staff and patients on Friday, officials at Boston Hospital said.
“So far, 310 employees have been tested with 19 positive tests. 54 patients were tested with 9 positive tests. That brings the total number of cases in the cluster to 28, ”the hospital said in a press release. “There are more than 600 people connected to the cluster who are currently being tested.”
Further information on specific cases was not available due to patient privacy issues.
The cluster was identified for the first time on Tuesday by the hospital’s infection control team in two inpatient units in the Braunwald Tower. The team believes the virus was contained in these units, and officials said the outbreak was not affecting other areas of the hospital on Friday.
How exactly the coronavirus entered the medical center and spread there remained unclear.
“Our infection control team investigated the source of the cluster through intensive contact tracing, tests and employee interviews,”
However, an investigation revealed what the hospital saw as possible “contributing factors” that caused the spread.
Many patients did not wear masks during interactions with hospital staff, and healthcare providers “inconsistently used eye protection” when interacting with patients.
In addition, the hospital announced that the first patient to test positive for coronavirus had received “an aerosol generation procedure” prior to testing positive, adding that a staff member who had mild symptoms was “consistent with historical seasonal allergies “Continued to work.
According to hospital officials, the staff also did not physically distance themselves while not wearing masks while eating.
One of the units involved in the cluster was closed and the other was opened because the infection control team “documented a clear transmission train,” the hospital said. Both devices have been or are being cleaned.
Brigham and Women’s have claimed the facilities are safe to visit.
“Brigham is committed to creating and maintaining a safe care environment by testing all patients admitted to the hospital. The staff must confirm their health every day before work. All staff, patients, and visitors must wear hospital-issued masks on campus. Insist on frequent hand hygiene, frequent cleaning of the environment and enforcement of appropriate physical distancing, ”the statement said.
On Friday, the hospital announced it was offering free COVID-19 testing to employees who have been working on the main campus since September 14.
All patients (including those who have been discharged) and staff who are believed to have been exposed will be contacted by the infection control team to arrange tests for them, the hospital said.
Employees who are symptomatic or who test positive for the virus have been sent home “and are not allowed to return to work until they meet the criteria for returning to work on our system,” the hospital said.
All inpatients are now also being tested for the virus. The patients had already been tested under the previous protocol on admission to the hospital and, according to officials, had been checked for symptoms daily.
People who think they might be exposed to the virus because of the cluster will be given free tests, the hospital said.
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