Your Questions About COVID-19 Answered

A lot of information surrounding COVID-19 has been circulating online, and it can feel overwhelming. Our medical experts want to make sure you are informed so that you can feel more confident about your choices during this time. Dr. Matthew Saidel, Medical Director of Women's Health Connecticut, answered your questions regarding COVID-19 and your health.

Please know you can always call your Women’s Health Connecticut physician’s office with any questions or concerns you may have. We do recommend all patients call their physician’s office before going to their scheduled appointment. Many practices have instituted temporary restrictions, please check here to see if your practice has updated their protocols.

I’m due to deliver in a few weeks. Other than visitor restrictions currently being enforced, what additional precautions are taken, or expected to be enacted to protect expectant mothers and babies?

You are correct, visitors are being significantly limited in most hospitals and doctor offices, most will only allow a single support person. We obviously don't know what the situation will be like in four weeks, but right now labor and delivery floors are being kept isolated from other areas of the hospital, and most patients are in private rooms for labor and delivery. Patients who are affected by the virus are kept isolated and staff is vigilant in caring for each patient, while not spreading the virus. At this time, there is no evidence that an unborn baby can contract COVID-19 from the mother's uterus. If a mother is infected, our biggest concern is the baby becoming infected by the mother after delivery. To mitigate that, staff would have to temporarily separate mother and child.

I’m wondering if it is truly safe to go grocery shopping. Everything I’ve read is pushing hand washing and I’m not doubting the benefits, but don’t viruses get into the air and on surfaces as well? For example- if someone carrying the illness picks up a box of cereal, but then puts it back down, and now I pick it up and purchase it? Yes, I can come home and wash my hands and change my clothes, but is there a chance that even the grocery items we are bringing into our home can be contaminated?

Yes, you are technically correct, viruses can last on the surfaces of objects for some time. Of course, it is of extreme importance that we wash our hands, but it is also important to have disinfectant wipes or some kind of other spray to frequently clean surfaces. I am in the habit of removing all objects from grocery bags and wiping them down as I bring them into my home. Many grocery stores will have wipes to disinfect carts, you can use those to even wipe down items as you pick them up and put them in your cart. Transmission this way is unlikely, but in this situation, it is always good to be extra cautious.

I still want to support the businesses in my town, and I know many are doing take out only etc. I am a little worried about eating food prepared by someone else right now... is that a valid worry to have?

Cooking will inactivate the virus at normal temperature levels that we use to cook our food to kill bacteria (for example uncooked meat). I would suggest reheating your prepared food when you take it home. It is a question about salads and other cold items, that is hard to answer. We hope restaurants and food preparation centers will use the same sanitary precautions they always do (like hand washing and excluding sick individuals from meal preparation), but it is a good idea to wipe down food containers when they come into the house. We can only do the best that we can at this time.

I am currently pregnant and work at a job that doesn’t offer work from home. What can I do to protect myself?

If you are pregnant and unable to work from home, you need to follow the same precautions as everyone else. It appears that pregnant women are not any more susceptible to catching the virus as anyone else. Although pregnant women generally have had more of a serious reaction to similar viruses, this has not been seen with COVID-19. At work, you should practice social isolation, stay 6-feet away from others, and not be in a room with more than 10 other individuals. Avoid anyone sick in your environment, wash your hands frequently, and keep your work stations clean by wiping down surfaces with disinfectant or with soap and water.

I am pregnant and apprehensive to go to my OB’s office for routine visits during this outbreak. Is it okay to skip them?

This is a very good question, we agree that people should minimize their exposure. All of our patients are being screened before coming into the offices. That means if they have a travel history, or any symptoms, such as fever, cough, and respiratory issues, they are being excluded from office visits. If you need to go, you should spend as little time as possible in the waiting room and even announce your arrival and wait in your car until a staff member can come and get you. The important question is if you need to be seen at all. If there are no risk factors in your pregnancy, if your last routine visit was recently, and if you are feeling well, the space between visits can be spaced out for a low-risk pregnancy.

If you would like to ask Dr. Saidel a question regarding Covid-19 and your health, please message us on our Facebook page.