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Pregnant mother nearing delivery worries about COVID-19 exposure after parents test positive

If a mother has coronavirus during childbirth, the newborn would have to be separated for up to two weeks.

EDINA, Minnesota — Cassie Bonstrom's mother Susan Jack, 69, has been in and out of hospitals a lot over the last 15 months. First, for a double-lung transplant, then for a colon cancer diagnosis. And now she has the coronavirus.

"You hear so much how everyone's going to get it, or likely to get it, but my mom's always known and she said before, a couple weeks ago, she said I'm a sitting duck," Bonstrom said. "If this comes to us, she says I know I likely would get it and not be able to survive it."

Susan was feeling shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and a really high fever, so Saturday night her family brought her to the hospital.

"And they came out in full protective gear and whisked her away. And her wife, my stepmom, said goodbye and we sent her off," Bonstrom said.

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Now, the COVID-19 test has come back positive for Susan and her wife Kim, which has Cassie even more worried, because she had close contact with both of them. And she's 36 weeks pregnant.

"I'm left with a lot of questions and not a lot of answers as to what this now means for me and my baby and our family," Bonstrom said.

Frustratingly, Cassie can't get tested for the coronavirus, because of the new testing restrictions. She's not showing symptoms and doesn't need hospitalization. But she will within weeks. 

"My doctor, who's amazing and willing to sacrifice herself here for her patients, she says we'll do what we need to do and we'll get that baby out safely," Bonstrom said.

"The hardest thing for me is if we don't have a test for her, is she going to be separated from her baby for no reason?" said Dr. Kellie Stecher, a Twin Cities OBGYN.

Dr. Stecher says if a mother is infected -- or if they have to presume they are without a test result -- they would have to separate the mother and child after birth.

But there is some good news.

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"The pregnant patients that we are seeing with it are doing very well. Whenever someone is pregnant and has any sort of virus or illness, we worry about transmission from mom to baby. And at this time we’re not seeing that vertical transmission or transmission from mom to baby," Stecher said.

For Cassie, while worrying about her mother, her family and her unborn child, she's not taking things day by day. More like minute by minute.

Susan Jack is currently hospitalized but is not in the ICU. Cassie and her family are quarantining at home.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

More information on the coronavirus: 

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