Covid-19 infection that killed 1 in US hospital likely caused by inflatable Christmas tree costume

An unfortunate outcome that came from good intentions.

Darryl Laiu | January 05, 2021, 04:19 PM

A staff member of the accidents and emergency (A&E) department at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center in the United States passed away on Jan. 3 due to complications from Covid-19.

According to NBC Bay Area, she was one of 44 staff members who worked on Christmas day and eventually tested positive for Covid-19.

Covid-19 infection likely from well-intentioned staff

Hospital officials said that the likely source of the outbreak is a well-intentioned employee that was strolling through the A&E department dressed in an inflatable red-nosed Christmas tree costume.

Experts told The Washington Post that the fan in the costume could have blown Covid-19 droplets throughout the department as the employee was walking around.

"Obviously this is a highly unusual situation involving a well-intentioned staff member acting on their own without advance notice or approval," said Irene Chavez, the hospital's senior vice president and area manager.

"Any exposure, if it occurred, would have been completely innocent, and quite accidental, as the individual had no covid symptoms,” she added.

No more air-powered costumes allowed

The hospital is still investigating the outbreak, and all A&E staff are being tested and the department is undergoing thorough cleaning.

Meanwhile, Chavez said that air-powered costumes are no longer allowed in the hospital, and the incident has caused the hospital to reinforce safety protocols among staff.

Top image via Screenshot from NBC Bay Area/YouTube.