An Arizona mom who was diagnosed with coronavirus shortly after Christmas died just weeks after delivering her twin babies two months early. The family of Veronica Bernal, who leaves behind four other children including a 10-month-old, told Fox 10 Phoenix that she was placed on a ventilator in early January.
On Jan. 6, the 36-year-old gave birth to Manuel Jr. and Mariyah eight weeks earlier than their due date, but on Jan. 25 the virus overcame her.
“It hurts so much because there was nothing I could do,” Manuel Medina, Bernal’s husband and the father of her twins and 10-month-old, told Fox 10 Phoenix.
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Medina is currently juggling full-time work and caring for his children while visiting his twins in the NICU, as they have not been able to come home yet. A GoFundMe page has raised over $15,000 for the family.
“For her to be taken so quick … it’s hard for me to just think of and imagine,” he told the news outlet. “She’s never going to get to see them grow up. She’s not going to get to be part of their lives anymore or anything because of all this.”
It’s not clear how Bernal contracted coronavirus, or if she had underlying health conditions in addition to being pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between Jan. 22, 2020, and Feb. 1, 2021, there have been 64,075 cases of confirmed COVID-19 in pregnant women and 74 deaths. At least 10,850 pregnant women required hospitalization, but data was not available for all 64,075 cases.
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Multiple studies have confirmed an associated risk for severe illness or adverse outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19, but research continues to be ongoing. Debate over whether pregnant women should receive the available vaccines is also ongoing, as some cite a lack of data as a reason to abstain while others say the risk of COVID-19 poses more of a threat to pregnancy than the vaccine itself.
“People who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to be vaccinated,” the CDC states as part of its guidance, while noting that studies in people who are pregnant are planned.
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“A conversation between pregnant patients and their clinicians may help them decide whether to get vaccinated with a vaccine that has been authorized for use under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA),” the CDC states.