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More than 100 Boston-area hospital employees test positive for coronavirus

More than 100 Boston-area hospital employees test positive for coronavirus
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More than 100 hospital employees in Boston have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as the city's health system responds to the disease's outbreak. 

Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Boston Medical Center told CNN on Wednesday that dozens of their workers had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

Brigham and Women's Hospital confirmed 45 cases among its staff, while Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed 41 cases and Boston Medical Center said 15 of its employees had contracted the virus.

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The revelations came as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in many places across the U.S., overwhelming health systems. State and health officials have increasingly warned of a shortage in necessary hospital equipment, noting that they are running out of intensive care unit beds and other critical supplies amid a rise in patients.

Terri Ogan, a representative at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the hospital believes a majority of its employees who contracted the virus became infected somewhere other than the hospital. She told CNN that the statement was based on "hospital data, our broad implementation of CDC-guided infection control procedures throughout the hospital, and the extent of community spread now ongoing in Massachusetts."

Massachusetts had reported more than 1,800 confirmed cases from the coronavirus as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with at least 15 deaths from the disease in the state.

Daniela Lamas, a Brigham and Women's Hospital physician, told CNN that staffers who have contracted the virus have been sent home. Though she said that Boston has yet to see as dramatic of a rise as other areas and that workforce level is still at a formidable level.

"As we watch New York and as we sort of watch all they're going through, that has allowed us to ramp up in a way that feels safe," Lamas said. "Ask us when we're seeing an onslaught of cases, and I'm not sure."

Nurses in the state have advocated for treating all patients who enter hospital facilities as if they've contracted the virus. In a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker (R), the Massachusetts Nurses Association said that "every healthcare worker who comes into contact with patients must be provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) that can guard against the spread of COVID-19."

"The inability to effectively segregate patients quickly, as well as the lack of available testing with quick results, has left us with co-mingled patients and the virus is ahead of us," the group said.