Pregnant Latinas Represent a Surprisingly High Rate of Coronavirus Cases in the United States

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Pregnant women may be finding the current coronavirus crisis tougher than others. Getty

Talk of a second wave of the coronavirus in the United States is as unpredictable as it is dangerous. While the government insisted that the virus would “disappear” as if by magic, and while anger over racism and police violence led millions of people to demonstrate in the streets, COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc.

The delicate words of specialists like Dr. Anthony Fauci or members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been of little use, especially to a government that insists on reopening schools and businesses alike, no matter the cost.

At the beginning of the outbreak, and before it became the world’s epicenter, coronavirus cases in the country peaked at about 30,000 new cases a day before the government decided to put in place preventive measures, and the numbers stabilized at about 20,000 cases a day, according to data from John Hopkins University. 

But the rush by some states to reopen their doors in late April and June led to an increase in new cases, CNBC said.

For Dr. Fauci, the reason is simple: “We did not shut down entirely.”

“We need to draw back a few yards and say, ‘OK, we can’t stay shut down forever.’ …You’ve got to shut down, but then you’ve got to gradually open,” he said during an interview with Stanford Medical Dean Dr. Lloyd Minor.

Now, the United States has more than 3.3 million positive cases of COVID-19 and at least 135,205 deaths, with a 5 percent increase in 37 states, according to the media.

However, the lack of testing and data collection in all departments had made it impossible to fully understand the demographic impact of the virus and its prevalence in communities of color, until now.

As NPR explained, 48 states plus Washington D.C. have reported the race or ethnicity of half of all their cases and 90 percent of the deaths, showing a clear pattern: communities of color are disproportionately hit.

Especially pregnant women.

To date, the CDC says it knows of over 11,000 pregnant women who have tested positive for COVID-19. According to ABC, Hispanic and Latino women accounted for more than 4,500 of those cases, with 3,252 hospitalized and 31 who have died.

Dr. Atul Nakhasi, a primary care physician and policy adviser to the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, the nation’s second-largest health care system, told the media that multiple factors might explain the data released by the CDC.

“Pregnant women access health care more regularly, they need to come in for their ultrasounds or prenatal appointments, they need to come in regularly and routinely to check on mom and check on baby,” Nakhasi told the media. “They’re in the health care setting, which is arguably one of the most high-risk environments.”

According to a morbidity and mortality study mentioned in the CDC report, among reproductive-age women with COVID-19, pregnancy was associated with hospitalization and increased risk for intensive care unit admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation, but not with death.

“Pregnant women had more severe outcomes than non-pregnant women, they were hospitalized at five times the rate of pregnant women with COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women with COVID-19, and they were more likely to go into ICU for critical care,” said Nakhasi. “But the interesting thing is pregnant women with COVID-19 have lower mortality rates. Are doctors being extra cautious and upgrading them to critical care status and maybe protecting their lungs early by putting in a breathing tube?”