A New York man who had been exposed to COVID-19, and who was experiencing symptoms, hid his illness from the Strong Memorial Hospital staff so he could visit his pregnant wife in the maternity ward, then she got sick, USA Today reported.
After the couple’s child was born, the wife began experiencing respiratory symptoms. It was only then the husband admitted that he had been feeling sick and that he could have COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
To that point, the hospital had been relying on the word of visitors that they hadn’t been exposed to COVID-19 and that they weren’t feeling sick. After this incident, however, the rules will be stricter; visitors will be subjected to regular temperature checks while they’re at the hospital.
Privacy laws prevent the hospital from revealing whether any member of the family tested positive for COVID-19. Hospital staff members that interacted with them have been notified of their potential exposure, but told to continue working until or unless they develop symptoms.
The situation highlights the difficult situations faced by hospitals and patients in the age of COVID-19. Family members who might normally be in the delivery room for the birth of a child now could be excluded due to stricter limits on who can visit. In this case, a father chose to lie about being sick so he could witness the birth of his child, risking exposing numerous others to the highly contagious coronavirus.
Hospital workers are now left to wonder whether they have been infected, and because some people are asymptomatic when they get COVID-19, they could unwittingly spread the virus to others before they even have a chance to verify their status with a test.
Hospitals, especially in New York, can’t afford to lose doctors and nurses to quarantines. Although federal assistance has significantly expanded the state’s capacity to treat patients, fears remain that if the number of serious COVID-19 cases continues to increase that hospitals could face staff and equipment shortages like those seen in Italy.