SAN JOSE, Calif. - The coronavirus outbreak that occurred on Christmas Day at Kaiser San Jose continues to grow.
As of Tuesday, a spokesman from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said that 77 Kaiser employees and 15 patients had now tested positive for the virus.
That is 17 more employees than last week and this is the first time that the county had made public the number of patients in the ER that day who tested positive.
One worker, a receptionist, died a week or so after Christmas, although Kaiser hasn’t said exactly when. KTVU has not been able to identify that person because the Santa Clara County coroner can't ID people if they don't know the exact day or location that someone died.
But the number of positive tests is likely much higher than that. The county has not said how many people in the patients' or employees' extended circles have also contracted the virus despite making contract tracing calls.
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For example, one woman, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted KTVU this week to say that she, her daughter, and a total of seven family members, including her parents in their 70s, have now tested positive for coronavirus. She said she was never alerted by Kaiser about the outbreak, despite assurances from Kaiser that doctors called all 74 patients in the ER that day.
She and her daughter were both in the ER on Christmas Day when a well-intentioned staffer dressed up in an inflatable Christmas tree costume appeared at an impromptu gathering at work.
That staffer unknowingly had COVID and investigators are looking into the possibility that her air-powered costume spread the disease throughout the ER.
Jori Buriani, who was also treated in the ER on Christmas Day for a dislocated shoulder, said she also contracted coronavirus, as did her husband.
And Buriani also said Kaiser never called her to tell her about the outbreak. She didn't think to get tested until she saw it on the news for almost a week later. She and her husband both tested positive on Jan. 5, and are now waiting to see if their daughters have it, too.
San Jose Kaiser is now facing $43,000 fines from Santa Clara County and another $85,000 from Cal-OSHA from past violations.
Kaiser said it denies any wrongdoing and is appealing the citations.