133 Arkansas hospital employees test positive for COVID-19 after cluster identified

More than 130 St. Bernards Healthcare employees tested positive for COVID-19 after the health system identified a cluster of positive healthcare workers earlier this month at its flagship facility in Jonesboro, Ark.

St. Bernards Healthcare said it identified the cluster of 24 COVID-19 positive healthcare workers on Oct. 1 within a certain floor of St. Bernards Medical Center. The positive employees, who did not care for isolated COVID-19 patients, were isolated and required to quarantine.

Due partially to high community spread in the surrounding region, testing of St. Bernards Medical Center’s hospital staff of more than 2,700 people began Oct. 2 and ended Oct. 8, the health system said, adding that employees received both a rapid test and a Polymerase Chain Reaction send-out test.

Ultimately, St. Bernards Healthcare identified 133 COVID-19 positive individuals; most of which proved asymptomatic. 

“St. Bernards Healthcare closely coordinated with [the Arkansas Department of Health] throughout this process, and medical officials are confident their efforts addressed the situation efficiently and appropriately,” the health system said. 

St. Bernards Healthcare said its flagship facility continues safety measures that include COVID-19 testing of admitted patients, expanded isolated units for COVID-19 care, universal and proper masking, required health screenings at entrances, mandatory social distancing, limited visitation, thorough sanitation and good hygiene requirements. 

The health system has not determined where transmissions took place. However, it said based on safety measures in place — and the fact that numerous positive employees work in different departments or on different shifts — it believes most COVID-19 positive healthcare workers were exposed outside of the hospital. 


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