Hospital worker dead after COVID-19 outbreak possibly tied to inflatable costume

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An employee who works at a California hospital experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak potentially linked to an inflatable Christmas tree costume has died from complications of the virus, according to a report.

The female registration clerk had been working in the emergency department on Christmas Day — the same day an employee wore an “air-powered” costume to spread holiday cheer at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, news station KNTV reported.

She was one of 43 staff members to contract the virus between Dec. 27 and New Year’s Day, hospital officials said.

The hospital is investigating whether the costume’s fan spread airborne respiratory droplets exhaled by a person infected with the virus.

“Any exposure if it occurred would have been completely innocent and quite accidental as the individual had no COVID symptoms and only sought to lift the spirits of those around them during what is a very stressful time,” Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of the center, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The hospital released a statement late Sunday to offer condolences to the victim’s loved ones.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this terrible loss. We are providing support to our employees during this difficult time,” the statement said, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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