Despite an outbreak of COVID-19 among more than 100 employees at an Ocean County hospital, patient care has not been affected, according to a hospital spokesman on Tuesday.

A Hackensack Meridian Health network memo dated Nov. 20 said more than 100 team members were out of work at one hospital after several colleagues "socialized outside of work."

"When you look at our clinical staff across the Hackensack Meridian Health network, less than 1.5% of our total workforce is currently out of work," according to an officials written response to New Jersey 101.5, who also said the number was down Tuesday "from just a couple of days ago as we see more team members returning to work."

“Out of work” is defined as either positive cases or those who have symptoms and are undergoing testing.

Though initially posted online the memo had been removed from the network's website Tuesday after a NorthJersey.com reporter at Gov. Phil Murphy's Monday briefing asked about an apparent outbreak at "Ocean Medical Center in Brick."

"This has not impacted patient care at Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center or any of our other hospitals, and all medical services are open. We continue to have adequate staffing and follow all rigorous safety protocols established by the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health," the Hackensack Meridian Health spokesman said Tuesday in response to questions by New Jersey 101.5.

The same Nov. 20 memo had also urged staffers not to let their guard down, saying, "We are all human, and working within our hospital and following our strict guidelines day in and out to great success - can lull us into a false sense of security when we are beyond these walls. What we know better than anyone, is that it only takes one gathering. One lapse of judgement."

Hospitals across the Hackensack Meridian health network have suspended patient visits as the state's COVID-19 case rates continue to spike, with exceptions for child labor and delivery, end-of-life care, pediatrics and adult patients with special needs.

At Monday's state briefing, Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Edward Lifshitz said, "with this upsurge, with the second wave, unfortunately, we are seeing again, an increase the number of outbreaks in a number of our facilities, long-term care facilities, and also acute care facilities."

On Tuesday, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide was reported as 3,129, of which 601 patients were in intensive care.

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