The family of a 32-year-old pregnant nurse are in mourning after she and her unborn child died after testing positive for Covid-19.
Haley Richardson, from Alabama, was six months pregnant when she thought she had a sinus infection in late July. However, she and her husband Jordan, who were unvaccinated, later tested positive for Covid.
According to her husband, Mrs Richardson experienced fatigue, loss of smell and taste, so she self-isolated at home, but didn't want to "overrun" the hospitals because she didn't want to "burden" them.
"She knew how overrun the hospitals were and she didn't want to put a burden on anybody else," Mr Richardson told ABC News.
"She knew what we thought we should be looking for in watching her oxygen levels and her heart rate and keeping those where they needed to be. We were doing everything we knew to do."
Her pregnancy was in distress
A little over a week after first experiencing symptoms, Mrs Richardson's oxygen levels were dangerously low and she was rushed to hospital. Several days later, she was transferred to a larger hospital's Covid intensive care unit and was placed on a ventilator.
Mr Richardson explained that doctors wanted to transport his wife to a hospital with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, which removes carbon dioxide from the blood and sends back blood with oxygen to the body, but due to a surge in the Covid Delta variant, there were no beds.
Tragically, two days before she died, doctors were unable to detect a heartbeat and she lost her baby girl.
"Before she contracted Covid, there was nothing wrong with the baby. All testing was 100 per cent normal," Mr Richardson said.
"Once Covid started, that slowly started to change and the movements got slower and slower. When we got to the hospital and they did an ultrasound and she saw it, she knew that it didn't look very promising."
Mr Richardson said his wife believed in the vaccine, but was worried about how it could affect her unborn baby.
Covid cases surging in Alabama
Alabama is experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads through the southern states of the US.
According to the Department of Public Health, the state is reporting the highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began.
Covid and pregnancy
Alabama has one of the lowest Covid vaccination rates in the US, with just over 36 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three out of four pregnant people in the USA have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine.
In Australia, it is recommended pregnant people receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
"Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 and their babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely," the Department of Health said.
"Vaccination is the best way to reduce these risks."
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