23 employees, 13 patients test positive for COVID-19 on non-COVID floor of Mass. hospital

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Twenty-three employees and 13 patients on a non-COVID floor at a Massachusetts hospital have all tested positive for the coronavirus.

The announcement was made Monday morning by Dr. Mark Keroack, the President and CEO of Baystate Health, during the weekly COVID-19 City of Springfield update. The coronavirus spread at a non-COVID clinical unit last week after one of their own employees worked while sick.

Dr. Keroack said a Baystate Medical Center employee had traveled to a hotspot within the United States and had contracted COVID-19. After returning to the area, that employee then went back to work.

“This event reinforces that COVID-19 is highly contagious, and requires vigiliance in order to contain the spread. We’re deeply disappointed that this outbreak has occurred, and we’re committed to an ongoing review of our safety practices, to ensure they’re alligned with current guidelines and science.”

Dr. Mark Keroack, President and CEO, Baystate Health

Keroack added that the virus was able to spread despite the precautions they’ve taken including temperature screening. That is because of a lack of social distancing and wearing of masks in a hospital breakroom.

Dr. Keroack explained that another factor that led to the spread of the virus was staff not wearing their masks and social distancing in the break rooms. Keroack says Baystate is reaching out to all patients who received care in the unit between July 15 and 23.

“These simple lapses were able to happen, in spite of our screening of employees for fever and other symptoms for every shift and mandating mask usage and social distancing throughout the facility,” Dr. Keroack told sister station WWLP.

Baystate Health is doing an extensive review of its COVID safety practices and is working with the state DPH on contact tracing.

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