File image of health workers wheeling a patient with Covid-19 symptoms on a hospital trolley: Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images
A 32-year-old nurse – among at least nine others – died from the coronavirus in April after a retired New York surgeon with the illness was admitted to a high end dementia care facility in Los Angeles.
According to the LA Times, the nurse, Brittany Bruner-Ringo, died on 20 April. Since then, more information on the surgeon and the trail of infected individuals left in the wake of his travels have emerged.
A month before Ms Bruner-Ringo’s death, the surgeon boarded an American Airlines flight in New York City bound for Los Angeles. Just before his flight, the man was discharged from a hospital that had seen a spike in coronavirus cases.
The other 499 passengers on the flight were not informed by health officials that the former surgeon had previously been exposed to Covid-19.
When he arrived in Los Angeles, he was taken to Silverado Beverly Place, a luxury dementia care facility, where Ms Bruner-Ringo was employed.
Employees at the facility said the surgeon was allowed to mingle and even eat with other individuals before his symptoms were identified. Ms Bruner-Ringo warned at the time that the surgeon had a fever and a cough when he arrived. The facility denies that the nurse made those claims, while her family and friends claim she spoke with them about the man’s symptoms following his arrival.
Though heavily redacted medical records obtained by the Canyon News suggested the man had no signs of cough or respiratory illness, an employee speaking to the LA Times said that the man was aware of his illness and wished to go to a hospital. She recalled asking the man to stay in his room to help prevent the spread of the pandemic, which prompted him to discuss his symptoms.
“Yes, I know the situation. And I am really hot and have it, and I need to go to the hospital,” he said.
The day after he arrived, he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a 101.9 fever and a cough. Exactly one month later, Ms Bruner-Ringo died from the virus and approximately 50 residents and staff at the facility had tested positive for the virus.
The surgeon did recover from his bout, but the individuals who flew with him to Los Angeles were never notified that they may have been exposed.
County health officials did not learn of the surgeon’s situation until 11 days after he’d tested positive.
When California’s former state epidemiologist, Dr George Rutherford, learned that none of the passengers who flew alongside the man had been notified of their exposure, his reply was “Christ, that’s a problem.
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