SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) - A COVID-19 outbreak at a hospital may have been caused by a Christmas costume.
At Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, 44 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 after an employee came into the emergency department dressed as a tree on Christmas Day.
One of those employees has died, but officials are not saying who it was.
The outbreak happened after the hospital had given its emergency workers their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but it was too soon for them to be fully inoculated.
The employee wearing the costume was reportedly trying to bring holiday cheer to the department.
Their costume is described as “inflatable” and “air-powered.” That usually means a small fan helps keep the costume inflated, and that may have helped spread the infection quickly.
“The random occurrence from the leak in concert with the random movements creates an unpredictable flow. Airflow on droplets can give these droplets superpowers, make them smaller and lighter, and keep them suspended in the air and potentially blow them around. And that’s what we call aerosol generation,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of the University of California, San Francisco.
“Our current culture right now is very quick to point fingers and blame people when bad things happen, but the reality is that bad things happen even under the best of circumstances or the best intentions,” said Thomas Plante of Santa Clara University.