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Pregnant And Very Sick

'I lose sleep at night': Surge of pregnant women with severe COVID seen at Illinois hospital

PEORIA — A recent surge in the number of pregnant women hospitalized for COVID-19 is causing Dr. Michael Leonardi to lose sleep.

Leonardi is an OB-GYN with OSF HealthCare who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. He said there was a dramatic jump in the number of pregnant COVID-19 patients hospitalized at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center between July and August.

“The last weekend that I was on call, one-third of labor and delivery beds were taken up by women with COVID who had no reason other than COVID to be in the hospital,” said Leonardi.

“I can think of two people recently who were intubated and on ventilators in the ICU and delivered early because of COVID. I am concerned that we’re on the beginning of an upsurge.”

This type of surge is something Leonardi hasn’t seen before. Even before the vaccine was available — when cases of COVID-19 were rising in central Illinois — there was only a trickle of pregnant women who became severely ill.

“While the vaccination rate of eligible people in central Illinois hovers around 50%, only about 23% of pregnant women are vaccinated across the nation.”

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Leonardi said:

“They came in in ones and twos, was my sense during the previous surges.” 

“I think things were different then. We did not have the vaccine and people were still scared of COVID. So I think people were doing better with mitigation efforts like wearing a mask and social distancing. … I think now people have COVID fatigue. More people are immunized, which means the level of concern has been dialed back.”

While relative youth protects many healthy pregnant women from the more severe effects of COVID-19, pregnancy itself is a complicating factor that can make women more susceptible to the virus.

Just like diabetes, obesity and other pre-existing health conditions, pregnancy can lead to increased risk of hospitalization, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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While the vaccination rate of eligible people in central Illinois hovers around 50%, only about 23% of pregnant women are vaccinated across the nation, says the CDC … READ MORE. 

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