At least 37 healthcare workers at one hospital in Hayward tested positive for COVID-19 in late May, and a majority of them worked together in the same medical/surgical/telemetry unit.
The outbreak at St. Rose Hospital previously went undisclosed, and these 37 cases represented just one piece of an overall surge in cases in Alameda County over the last month. As the Chronicle reports, spokesperson for the hospital Sam Singer disclosed the outbreak on Friday, saying that none of the 37 workers were hospitalized and some have now recovered and been cleared to return to work.
The hospital treats a number of low-income patients, and parts of Hayward have been among the East Bay's hot spots in the last month with high per-capita rates of COVID infections. In total, St. Rose has 780 employees, and presumably all have undergone testing — though that has not been specified in the report.
One nurse in the hard-hit unit, Morgan Waggener, tells the Chronicle that the outbreak was very likely due to a lack of sufficient PPE (personal protective equipment), but the hospital disputes that any infectious disease protocols were ignored.
"I think any trained nurse or medical professional could clearly see that this outbreak correlates directly to lack of personal protective equipment being available at St. Rose hospital, especially with the shelter in place that’s going on," Waggener tells the paper, though she says that now there are more N95 masks available in the unit.
The county continues to investigate the outbreak, and county spokeswoman Neetu Balram tells the Chronicle, "We have used this information [from our investigation] to identify practices that may be driving the outbreak and define a range of specific measures which we have instructed St. Rose to adopt."
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, healthcare workers have been among the most frequently infected, due to their direct exposure to COVID patients. At UCSF, as of Froday, 71 out of 2,471 tested employees have come up positive for COVID-19, according spokeswoman Kristen Bole.