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Mass General worker infections double in the past day as coronavirus impact felt across hospitals

109 workers at Beth Israel Lahey are also infected, the first time the system has released that information.

Boston hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital, are seeing a growing number of coronavirus cases among their own staffs.
Boston hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital, are seeing a growing number of coronavirus cases among their own staffs.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Coronavirus infections continue their alarming rise among staff at major hospitals in the state, with Massachusetts General Hospital Friday reporting 89 workers sickened, more than double the day before.

Beth Israel Lahey, a 12-hospital system, had previously not released to the Globe any numbers on the degree of infections within its work force, but Friday reported 109 staffers affected by the pandemic. Brigham and Women’s Hospital reported 58 — seven more than the previous day, according to data updated daily by the Globe.

The infections raise alarms about the ability of the hospitals to meet the challenge of a possible deluge of patients. When a staff member is infected, it has a ripple effect on close colleagues, who must be quarantined, and could spread the virus to others within the institutions.

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The escalation comes at a time when the state has seen a steep rise in the number of infected patients, both in and out of hospitals, and a death toll that climbed from 25 to 35 in the past day. On Friday, the state reported 3,240 confirmed cases, an increase of more than 800 from the previous day.

Staff infections at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center numbered 54 and 23, respectively, fairly similar to the day before. At UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, workforce infections rose to 18, double the previous day.

Hospital officials have said that many of cases involve employees who do not work in the same spaces, or even in patient care, so their coronavirus infections may have come from community spread, not exposures to infected patients. Still, all hospitals have emphasized that the current shortage of protective masks, gloves and other equipment continues to keep front-line workers at risk for the virus.

Meanwhile, hospitals continue to absorb an influx of new patients, with the largest medical centers drawing significant numbers. At Mass General, the state’s largest hospital, 140 admitted patients are being investigated for possible coronavirus infection, 17 more than the previous day, and 61 patients have confirmed cases, 18 more than the day before.

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At Beth Israel Lahey, there are 100 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of the virus, and an additional 264 being investigated for possible infections.


Patricia Wen can be reached at patricia.wen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @GlobePatty.