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Health experts discuss COVID in daycares and pregnant women as cases spread

Health experts emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated, especially if you're pregnant or have young kids in daycare.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In Mayor Greg Fischer's COVID-19 update on Tuesday, he and health experts addressed the growing concern over two particular groups - pregnant women and children in daycares.

In the last week, Jefferson County has reported over 14,000 new COVID cases. The current case rate is 265 cases per 100,000 population, 10 times the "Red Level", which is 25.

The death toll, on the other hand, has not risen, with seven deaths being reported in the last week.

About 74% of the community has received at least one dose of the vaccine, but only 42.8% have gotten their booster, according to the latest data from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW).

COVID in Daycares

With vaccinations, people have been able to get back to somewhat of a normal life like they had pre-pandemic. But for parents with young children, it's a different story.

Since vaccines have not been approved for kids in that age range, the number of cases continues to rise, which can cause strain on parents who have been out of work multiple times due to COVID in either themselves or their kids.

"The return to work numbers for women have been really tough. Women have really sacrificed more than what they should have during this pandemic in terms of getting back into the workforce and child care is a big big part of that," said Fischer.

Guidelines for daycares have changed, as have the quarantine rules for young children.

Instead of 10 days in isolation, if kids are over two years old and able to wear masks consistently, they can now return after five days. However, health leaders said some daycares may not feel comfortable with the new changes and still use the full 10-day isolation to be on the safe side.

Quarantine used to be 14 days for a child with COVID, but the CDC has dropped that isolation period to five or 10 days, depending on if the child can wear a mask. Despite these federal changes, some daycares are still choosing to keep their quarantine guidance at 10 to 14 days regardless, which can put a strain on some parents.

"I know parents whose kids haven't been in daycare at all in the month of January because there's consistently been someone they've been exposed to and they have to go back home," said Dr. Sarah Moyer, the director of LMPHW.

Additionally, many parents can only take around 10 sick days if they work. This means that for some, all those days have already been used.

Disinformation: Vaccines and Pregnancy

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of fear revolving around pregnancy and COVID-19, particularly how the virus would affect both mom and baby. The fear then shifted to vaccines and whether or not they were safe, since pregnant women weren't in the initial vaccine studies.

Dr. Edward Miller, a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist with UofL Health spoke about the growing disinformation during Fischer's Tuesday presser.

Miller said many parents were initially concerned about any long-term effects the vaccine could have as their baby develops, such as autism or developmental problems.

"As the vaccine became more widely available and we started getting pregnancy data, I think we saw a sigh of relief. We saw less pregnant women in the ICU and less pre-term births," said Miller.

However, Miller said this has changed with the surge of the omicron variant. He said the triage units in Louisville were "almost getting overwhelmed" and they're seeing more COVID-positive patients in the labor and delivery unit.

While pregnant women are not more likely to contract COVID, when they do test positive and are unvaccinated, Miller said they have a higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

"Oftentimes the hardest part about managing COVID in pregnancy is there comes a point when the very pregnancy itself is preventing a woman from recovering from the infection," he said.

Sometimes this means they have to deliver babies early because the physiological change of the pregnant belly is preventing a woman from recovering.

Dr. Miller says the best thing a patient can do is have a conversation with their obstetrician and get vaccinated.

"There is great data that says it is safe for you and has the best benefit for baby", said Dr. Miller.

According to Dr. Miller, recent studies have also found there are absolutely no fertility-related concerns with the current COVID-19 vaccines.

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