Four employees and a patient at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The infections have been connected to someone who visited the patient. The visitor tested positive after being at the hospital, said Gale Robinette, Virginia Mason’s spokesperson and media relations manager.
The four employees and the patient have been quarantined, and every patient and employee who works on that floor has been tested, with no new infections discovered, Robinette said.
“We are continuing our surveillance efforts and working closely with Public Health – Seattle & King County,” he said.
Kate Cole, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said the agency is working with Virginia Mason and that the five infections “meets our definition for a health care setting outbreak.”
An outbreak can be declared at a hospital if two or more linked cases occur within a two-week period.
Robinette wouldn’t say when the person who had COVID-19 visited the hospital, when the patient and employees tested positive, whether employees throughout the hospital are being tested, or when the hospital notified Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Hospitals are required to report staff COVID-19 infections weekly to local health departments. Public Health – Seattle & King County was notified by the hospital of two cases on Aug. 30 and the rest of the cases on Aug. 31 and Friday.
This is the second COVID-19 outbreak Virginia Mason has had since June, when four employees who worked in or near the hospital’s operating rooms contracted the virus.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 18 outbreaks at hospitals in King County, most of which consisted of two to four cases, said Sharon Bogan, a spokesperson for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
In the past month, two outbreaks — the current Virginia Mason outbreak and the Swedish Cherry Hill campus — had more than four cases with health care workers sickened, Bogan said.
St. Michael Medical Center in Bremerton is dealing with a much larger outbreak that has sickened 23 patients, 46 staff and one other person who was at the hospital.
The Bremerton hospital is part of the Tacoma-based CHI Franciscan system, which announced in July that it is planning a merger with Virginia Mason.