Covid transmission rates in hospitals in non-ICU wings?
July 15, 2020 11:38 AM   Subscribe

My sister-in-law will be having a c-section this month, and will need to be in the hospital for a few days to recover. My parents (both elderly, one recovering from cancer) want to see her and the baby when she gets back from the hospital. Currently none of them have Covid, but we're weighing the risks that my sister-in-law may pick up Covid just from her time spent recovering in the hospital, and whether or not my parents should wait two weeks so as not to risk exposure. Is there any current hospital transmission data about non-ICU patients catching Covid? We're in California, if that helps.
posted by egeanin to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I don't think there is any reliable data, and even in cases where there is data, it seems like it outdates itself extremely quickly right now, especially in the USA where statistical reporting is behind real-life experiences by days or even weeks. The hospital should give guidance on this exact scenario, but in case they don't, I think waiting two weeks is the smart thing to do. That's what's recommended for any possible exposure, and this would certainly count as a possible exposure.
posted by juniperesque at 12:50 PM on July 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

The transmission rate is zero until there's an institutional outbreak, and then it's "lots". Worse, you don't know about the outbreak until someone develops symptoms and/or gets tested. Outbreaks have happened in hospitals, including non-ICU; the problem is that they are stochastic.

Let me turn the question around and ask what risk level you would accept?
posted by heatherlogan at 1:07 PM on July 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd wait for all of their sakes. If they're not already, parents should do 100% quarantine for 14 days before seeing her. C-section recovery is arduous.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:18 PM on July 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

I had a c-section last week and I would wait the two weeks in this situation. I may be biased though because a cluster in April at our local hospital accounts for about half the total cases in our county. I echo heatherlogan that if there is an outbreak at the hospital it can be very bad, very fast.
posted by entropyiswinning at 1:37 PM on July 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I’m a nurse in a hospital in California.

I’ve touched no one except my patients and my husband since March. I’ve seen no one indoors except my patients and my husband since March. No one has been inside my home since March.

The only people I’ve seen outdoors from a distance of more than 6’ are my elderly mother (once) and my best friend.

I behave as though I have covid every minute of every day, because every time I go to work, I might become infected.

No one should go anywhere near a person who’s been inside a hospital until at least two weeks have passed since that person’s discharge home.

Yeah. I need a hug.
posted by jesourie at 1:54 PM on July 15, 2020 [49 favorites]

I just had a baby in the same hospital where I work as an OBGYN resident. I tested negative on hospital admission. I opted to quarantine for 14 days before visiting my elderly grandmother.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:47 PM on July 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a nurse in a hospital where people have babies, and where we also have Covid patients (most of whom are not in the ICU). All the women who are admitted to give birth are Covid-tested. The labor/delivery/postpartum floor is separate from the part of the hospital where the Covid patients are: separate space, separate staff. The patient's only allowed visitor is their "support person" - usually the other parent. Everything possible is done to minimize risk. However ...

No one should go anywhere near a person who’s been inside a hospital until at least two weeks have passed since that person’s discharge home.

Hell yes. A newborn baby? Elderly people? Cancer patients? They should wait the two weeks. Sorry.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:20 PM on July 15, 2020 [7 favorites]

Zoom isn’t the same as an in-person visit, but it’s risk free for all parties. I recommend one of those clip on device holders with an adjustable height/angle (looks like a snake). Much easier for the patient.
posted by Kalatraz at 10:55 PM on July 15, 2020

Two weeks is the wait time if they're due for TDAP, too; mentioning in case a 'protecting the baby' reason helps with the delay, when they're understandably eager.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:24 AM on July 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Honestly I wouldn’t worry about a short, masked, no-contact outdoor visit. Or even better, a through-the-screen-door kind of situation. But maybe I’m just rationalizing because my husband has to spend four hours at the hospital every two weeks (and has been hospitalized a few times since early March) and if we quarantined after every visit I’d go insane.

We did quarantine post-hospital back in March-April when the surge was happening here, though. But that was also pre-masking, pre-knowledge about transmission. Actual risk (which is low but present, and much lower for patients than hospital staff) will vary wildly depending on the specific area within CA.

Also I think the calculus changes dramatically depending on what else your parents are doing - if they’re otherwise completely isolated, yeah this is a big change in their risk level. If they’re visiting friends, golfing, doing their own shopping and dining out, the additional risk is minuscule.

And ultimately the number don’t matter, it’s all about your tolerance of risk - the same person can look at the same number and find it acceptable or unacceptable.
posted by mskyle at 4:20 AM on July 16, 2020

Response by poster: They have decided to wait! Thanks for the insights, everyone.
posted by egeanin at 4:48 PM on July 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

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