SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Pregnant People at Labor and Delivery and Changes in Infection Rates in the General Population: Lessons Learned From Illinois

Sonal Goyal*, Jaline Gerardin, Sarah Cobey, Crystal Son, Owen McCarthy, Arielle Dror, Shannon Lightner, Ngozi O. Ezike, Wayne A. Duffus, Amanda C. Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assessed whether increases in the SARS-CoV-2 test positivity rate among pregnant people at labor and delivery (L&D) could signal increases in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in the general Illinois population earlier than current state metrics. Materials and Methods: Twenty-six birthing hospitals universally testing for SARS-CoV-2 at L&D voluntarily submitted data from June 21, 2020 through January 23, 2021, to IDPH. Hospitals reported the daily number of people who delivered, SARS-CoV-2 tests, and test results as well as symptom status. We compared the test positivity rate at L&D with the test positivity rate of the general population and the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19–like illness by quantifying correlations in trends and identifying a lead time. Results: Of 26 633 reported pregnant people who delivered, 96.8% (n = 25 772) were tested for SARS-CoV-2. The overall test positivity rate was 2.4% (n = 615); 77.7% (n = 478) were asymptomatic. In Chicago, the only region with a sufficient sample size for analysis, the test positivity rate at L&D (peak of 5% on December 7, 2020) was lower and more stable than the test positivity rate of the general population (peak of 14% on November 13, 2020) and lagged hospital admissions for COVID-19–like illness (peak of 118 on November 15, 2020) and the test positivity rate of the general population by about 10 days (Pearson correlation = 0.73 and 0.75, respectively). Practice Implications: Trends in the test positivity rate at L&D did not provide an earlier signal of increases in Illinois’s SARS-CoV-2 prevalence than current state metrics did. Nonetheless, the role of universal testing protocols in identifying asymptomatic infection is important for clinical decision making and patient education about infection prevention and control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-678
Number of pages7
JournalPublic health reports
Volume137
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • labor and delivery
  • sentinel surveillance
  • universal testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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