15 employees at Holyoke Medical Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts tested positive for COVID-19. Employees may have contracted the virus from having lunch together.

“We think we put it down to employees having a meal together in a break room. When you have a meal, of course, you take off your mask and you got it from a positive employee,” said Spiros Hatiras, CEO of the hospital, told WGGB TELEVISION.

The employees tested positive about two weeks ago, and two of the employees are already back at work. Mr. Hatiras stated that there would be new guidelines. “What you sometimes find… with this tiredness is that sometimes six feet becomes five feet and sometimes four feet. We have now also set capacity limits in our break room, ”he said.

Holyoke is one of 13 Massachusetts cities that have moved back into “Phase 3, Step 1” in the state’s reopening plan, according to 22News. A warning went out to residents of Holyoke and some of the surrounding towns on Monday, saying:

“MAGovt Alert COVID19 is a serious threat in [city/town name]. Wear a mask. Wash your hands Keep distance. Do not share food and drink utensils. Stay home when you are sick. Get a free COVID test. Stop meeting family and friends. Protect yourself and your loved ones. More information is available at mass.gov/stopcovid19. ”

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, communities must revert to step 1 for three consecutive weekly health department reports if they are in the red risk category.

Holyoke Medical Center is located in Hampden County. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker, Hampden has seen an increase in cases over the past two weeks.

Mr Hatiras told WGGB News that despite the outbreak, Holyoke Medical Center is one of the safest places and still patients should feel comfortable going to the hospital for their medical needs.

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She began as an intern on a health and science podcast on Philadelphia public radio. Before that, she worked as a researcher studying the way bones are formed. When she is not in the laboratory and at her computer, she is in the moonlight as an assistant to a pig veterinarian and bagel baker.

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