More Testing Needed for Pregnant Women, Who Face Greater Risk From COVID-19

New statewide totals: 90,369 cases, 4,058 deaths

Illinois has opened more than 250 free testing sites statewide as it continues to ramp up its coronavirus testing efforts. To date, 538,602 tests have been conducted, with 26,565 in the 24 hours between Thursday and Friday.

But one group still needs more testing: pregnant women. 

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“Knowing if a woman giving birth has COVID-19 will help inform the medical plan, help inform medical decisions that need to be made, including those surrounding the use of appropriate personal protective equipment that will help protect not only the pregnant woman, but also her health care providers and, in fact, her newborn baby,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during Friday’s daily briefing.

Labor symptoms can mimic or cover up those of COVID-19, Ezike said, and can cause additional complications for women following birth. Early data from hospitals statewide that have already implemented universal screening of women admitted for labor shows a positivity rate of anywhere between 3-12%.

Officials on Friday reported 2,432 new COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours between Thursday and Friday, including 130 deaths. That puts the state’s coronavirus totals at 90,369 total cases and 4,058 deaths.

Of the 26,565 tests completed in the past 24 hours, about 3,000 of those were conducted using the Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories’ ID Now testing machine, which was the subject this week of an FDA warning concerning its reliability.

According to NPR, a study published this week showed those machines could be missing nearly half of all positive results. Pritzker on Friday said the ID Now machine has been used in about 10% of all tests statewide, adding that those results are now being pulled for further examination.

“I don’t think the FDA necessarily decided those (machines) are completely ineffectual, but they put out a warning and I believe Abbott is responding,” the governor said. “I think they’ll probably be used less for COVID-19 … I think we’ve all been put on warning by the FDA.”

The state owns only a small number of the ID Now machines, Pritzker said, including 15 which were sent by the federal government. Others in use are owned privately, but Pritzker said those using them should hold off until their accuracy can be confirmed.

“I want to discourage those folks from using it until they know what the FDA guidance will be,” the governor said, “to make sure that the sensitivity is proper to get the results I think we all hope and expect to get from a COVID-19 test.”

As of Friday, every region across Illinois is meeting the positivity rates necessary to move from phase 2 into phase 3 of Pritzker’s five-step “Restore Illinois” plan. To do so, regions must remain at or below a 20% positivity rate and increase no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period.

The governor said the statewide positivity rate over the past 24 hours is 9.2%, while the average over the past week is 12%. The overall average dating back to February is 16.8%, he said, though the decline seen since then should be taken with a grain with salt as Illinois is now testing far more residents than it was in February or March.

“Testing, testing, testing – that’s what every epidemiologist, every immunologist, every responsible business owner and everyone who cares about safely opening up our economy says we must do in order to successfully maintain a high standard of protection as we move into phase 3 and phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan,” Pritzker said.

No region will move into phase 3 before May 29. In that phase, gatherings of 10 or fewer people will be allowed, select industries can begin returning to their workplaces and retail establishments may reopen with limited capacity.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431


Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources

Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including: 

—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue

If you think you have COVID-19:

Call your doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.

Additional resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois’ COVID-19 website
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IDPH COVID-19 email link
City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link


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