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Veterans hospital under fire for flash mob dance video with staff ignoring social distancing

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'Too many people in the room'

Image source: YouTube video screenshot

A Veterans Affairs hospital is promising to re-establish the need for social distancing after its staff recorded a flash mob dance video in which the staff members violated the guidelines both in number and in proximity, the Oregonian reported.

What's this about? At least 16 staff members at the VA hospital in Roseburg, Oregon—including the hospital director—participated in a flash mob dancing video, which was obtained by the Oregonian and published on April 25.

Roseburg VA director's coronavirus dance party youtu.be

The video was presented as a "Director's Update" featuring hospital director Keith Allen, who starts off the video by dancing into the room to the song "Sweet Caroline."

As the video goes on, more and more staffers join in, until one person finally realized "there's too many people in the room" after a few minutes.

The backlash: Allen and the hospital were criticized for appearing to not take the COVID-19 outbreak as seriously as they should be. From the Oregonian:

"It just seems like they're not taking it seriously," said one VA employee, who is not being identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media. "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."

An Oregon congressman was also critical of the video.

"Director Allen's actions were totally inappropriate, especially in a healthcare setting and especially given the numerous veterans with underlying health conditions," U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) told the Oregonian in a statement.

Making some changes: In response to the anger, a hospital spokesperson explained that while the video was made in an administrative area of the hospital, and that all participants had been screened according to federal guidelines, they would do better about social distancing going forward.

"VA realizes the importance of social distancing during this national emergency and will reiterate that to all employees involved," spokesman Tim Parish wrote in a statement.

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