Coronavirus outbreak at Massachusetts hospital, CEO ‘deeply disappointed’

More than 30 people tested positive at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield

A coronavirus outbreak cropped up at a Massachusetts hospital after an employee traveled to a virus hot spot, officials said.

More than 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19 from the outbreak at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Dr. Mark Keroack, Baystate Health president and CEO, recently announced.

The hospital is located in the southwest portion of the state along the Connecticut River.

More than 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19 from the outbreak at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. (Photo credit: Google Street View)

More than 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19 from the outbreak at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. (Photo credit: Google Street View)

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“We are deeply disappointed that this outbreak has occurred,” Keroack said in a press release. “And we are committed to an ongoing review of our safety practices to ensure they are aligned with the current guidelines and science.”

Keroack said 13 patients and 23 employees on a non-COVID clinical unit had tested positive by Monday morning.

"From the beginning of the crisis in mid-March, we have cared for over 1,000 patients in our hospitals with no documented transmission to patients or employees – until now," Keroack said.

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A review from the hospital's epidemiologists found several factors that resulted in the cases.

One employee traveled to a virus hot spot, which was not revealed by hospital officials, and was diagnosed with the virus upon return. Staff also convened in breakrooms and removed masks without adhering to social distancing protocols.

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

Keroack added that the outbreak at his hospital reinforces how contagious the virus is, and the vigilance required to contain the spread.

Effective Aug. 1, a travel order requires all out-of-state visitors returning to Massachusetts to quarantine for 14 days or show a negative test result taken within 72 hours of arrival. Failure to comply may result in a $500 fine per day.

The hospital system applauded the new travel restrictions.

“The potential for introduction from other parts of the country that have a much higher prevalence of active infections is a great concern,” Davidson Hamer, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health and School of Medicine, told the Boston Herald.

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