Arlington, Texas — A pandemic record of at least 20 expectant mothers died from COVID-19 in the U.S. in the month of August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In July and August, about 1,000 pregnant people per week were testing positive, the agency said.
Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk of severe complications and death, new data from the CDC show. Only about 30% of pregnant women have been fully vaccinated prior to or during pregnancy, according to the agency. The CDC recently updated its guidance, and is now officially recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated.
"I have never in my career been this afraid for the patients I care for," said Dr. Rachael Morris, a high-risk obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
In less than four weeks, five pregnant women died at her hospital — all of them unvaccinated.
"I'm glad for the mask. They can't see the tears in my eyes, the fear on my own face. Because I know when they get intubated that they're probably not going to make it off the ventilator, but that we're going to do everything we can," Morris said.
Bianca Carrington was about two months pregnant with her second child when she contracted COVID-19 in July. Her husband, Austin Carrington, was vaccinated, but she waited.
"Her OB/GYN said, 'Yeah, it's safe.' But we still wanted to find out and get even more verification," Carrington said.
Within days of being admitted into the hospital, the 29-year-old mother was intubated, miscarried and put on life support.
"The last time she was conscious, she wasn't able to speak. She just took my hands and put them on her belly. And I just said, yeah, I know, I know, I heard," Carrington said.
Soon after losing their baby, Carrington lost his wife. He's now raising their 15-month-old son alone.
"I thought we were playing it safe by not getting the vaccine because of the baby," he said. "And now, it turns out getting the vaccine would have been a safe bet."