Director at coronavirus-hit veteran hospital holds ‘party’ at facility with 16 staffers not wearing masks or gloves – The Sun

THE director of a Veterans Affairs hospital hit by the coronavirus was filmed leading a dance party with staffers who weren’t following social distancing guidelines.

Keith Allen, who leads the facility in Roseburg, Oregon, was filmed holding up a boom box and dancing to the song Sweet Caroline in VA offices with at least 16 staff members.

The video, published last week by The Oregonian, shows the crowd dancing, laughing and talking within close distance of one another.

Among the song's lyrics include lines like "hands, touching hands, and "reaching out, touching me, touching you."

Roughly three minutes in, one staff members says, "There’s too many people in the room,” and the gathering subsequently breaks up.

A spokesperson from the Roseburg VA Health Care System told The Sun in a statement the “VA realizes the importance of social distancing during this national emergency and will reiterate that to all employees involved.”

“This video was made in an administrative, non-clinical area where PPE is not required,” spokesperson Tim Parish said.

“All staff who participated were volunteers and had been properly screened, per [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and VA guidelines.”

“Roseburg VAHCS takes its responsibility to protect Veterans and employees seriously, a fact that’s underscored by the facility’s .3 percent COVID-19 employee infection rate.”

The video was reportedly posted on the hospital’s internal intranet.

Federal health officials and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown have urged Americans to stay at least six feet apart from one another to prevent the spread of the virus.

It’s also recommended people wear masks to cover their mouths — both to prevent spreading germs to others and to prevent the wearer from contracting the virus themselves.

Per The Oregonian, the gathering appeared to be a morale-boosting event.

One VA employee told the news outlet: “It just seems like they’re not taking it seriously.”

“We have veterans that are dying and we know the best thing we can do is these behavioral interventions and social distancing.”

“I understand this is a rural county and it’s not spreading fast, but this is how it spreads.”

At least four members of the VA facility’s staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, including a nurse who put on a ventilator.

One patient also tested positive for COVID-19.

The Roseburg VA district covers four southern Oregon counties and some of northern California, serving around 56,000 veterans.

Rep Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, said in a statement: “Director Allen’s actions were totally inappropriate, especially in a healthcare setting and especially given the numerous veterans with underlying health conditions.”

“Simply put, we need to see stronger leadership from him moving forward,” DeFazio wrote to the news outlet.

As of Wednesday, Oregon had nearly 2,400 positive cases of the coronavirus and 99 deaths.

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