Universal testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in 2 Philadelphia hospitals: carrier prevalence and symptom development over 2 weeks

Published:September 11, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2020.100226

      Background

      The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has challenged obstetrical care providers. Universal testing on labor and delivery units has been implemented by many hospitals to ensure patient and staff safety. Asymptomatic carrier rates are expected to vary based on geographic differences in disease prevalence, although differences within the same city have not been reported previously. In addition, clinical follow-up of women who had a negative result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 during obstetrical hospitalization has not been included in any previous reports.

      Objective

      This study aimed to describe the prevalence of positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 test results among asymptomatic pregnant women at 2 Philadelphia obstetrical hospitals, characterize the clinical course of those who had a positive result, and report symptom development among all women tested in the 2 weeks after hospitalization.

      Study Design

      This is an observational study of asymptomatic pregnant women who underwent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 testing at 2 academic health centers (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between April 13, 2020, and April 26, 2020. All women tested were contacted via telephone for symptom follow-up at 1 and 2 weeks after discharge. Asymptomatic positive test rates are reported for the overall population and by hospital. The hospital and 2-week posthospital course are described for women who had a positive result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Posthospital symptom development among women who had a negative result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is also described.

      Results

      A total of 318 asymptomatic women underwent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 testing during this 2-week period; 8 women had a positive result. The overall asymptomatic test positive rate was 2.5%. The rate at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was 3.8% compared with 1.3% at Pennsylvania Hospital (P=.283). Of note, 3 women (37.5%) who were initially asymptomatic developed mild symptoms in the 2 weeks after a positive test result. Repeat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 testing was performed in 14 of the 310 women (4.5%) who initially had a negative result; 2 women (0.6%) had a positive result on repeat testing. Moreover, 242 (78.1%) and 213 (68.7%) of the 310 women who had a negative result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 at the time of the initial hospitalization were followed up via telephone at 1 and 2 weeks after admission, respectively. Viral symptoms, including fevers, chills, shortness of breath, or cough, were self-reported in 4.5% and 4.2% of these women at 1 and 2 weeks after discharge, respectively.

      Conclusion

      The asymptomatic positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 test rate among an obstetrical population in Philadelphia differed between 2 hospitals and was lower than that described in other geographic regions. This supports the importance of institution-specific testing protocols. The development of symptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection after hospitalization among women with initial negative test results is uncommon.

      Key words

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