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Hospital fined $43K after COVID-19 outbreak linked to inflatable Christmas costume

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Hospital fined $43K after COVID-19 outbreak linked to inflatable Christmas costume 1

A hospital in California was hit with a $43,000 fine for failing to quickly report a deadly coronavirus outbreak — which may have been caused by a worker wearing an inflatable Christmas tree costume, according to a report.

Honchos at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Jose allegedly didn’t report at least 43 cases of infected workers to Santa Clara County’s health department within the required four-hour time frame, according to county officials.

At least 78 employees at the hospital have now tested positive for COVID-19, according to ABC 7.

The hospital has been investigating whether the outbreak was spread when a staffer sported an “air-powered” costume to spread cheer on Christmas Day.

The penalty, dated Jan. 5, breaks down to $1,000 for each of the first 43 cases that officials say went unreported in the hospital’s emergency department.

But the hospital branch’s senior vice president, Irene Chavez, fired back, saying, “The suggestion that we are anything other than forthcoming with our reporting is inaccurate.”  

She said the company is reviewing the notice and will respond to the county with an appeal.

The hospital — which first reported 43 cases between Dec. 27 and Jan. 1 in a Jan. 3 press statement — is investigating whether the blow-up costume’s fan spread airborne respiratory droplets exhaled by a worker infected with the virus.

A female clerk working as a receptionist in the emergency room on Christmas Day later died from the infection.

With Post wires

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