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New York state overrules a hospital policy saying mothers must give birth without their partners

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responds to President Donald Trump considering a short-term quarantine of coronavirus "hot spots," including New York.

Posted: Mar 29, 2020 8:40 PM
Updated: Mar 29, 2020 8:40 PM

Days after a hospital system said it wouldn't allow women to have visitors during childbirth, New York state quashed that policy.

Last week, NewYork-Presbyterian health care system made the "very difficult decision" to ban such visitors, including the mothers' partners, to try to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But on Saturday, state officials announced plans for an executive order to allow women to have one visitor.

"In no hospital in New York will a woman be forced to be alone when she gives birth. Not now, not ever," Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Saturday.

The state Department of Health previously issued guidance on March 21 saying "the visitation policy requires hospitals to allow one support person in labor and delivery settings if the patient so desires."

The health department said it "considers one support person essential to patient care throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period."

But some hospitals were ignoring that guidance, Cuomo's seceretary Melissa DeRosa said.

So on Friday, that guidance was turned into a directive, DeRosa said. She said an executive order will follow.

NewYork-Presbyterian said it's abiding by that directive.

"Starting immediately, one birthing partner or support person will be allowed to be with our obstetric patients during labor and delivery," the hospital system tweeted Saturday.

"Our highest priority continues to be the safety and wellbeing of our mothers, babies, their families, and our staff."

But visitors to delivery rooms must be screened for coronavirus, the state health department said.

"Labor and delivery and pediatric patient support persons must be asymptomatic for COVID-19 and must not be a suspect or recently confirmed case," the Department of Health said.

"Additionally, hospital staff must screen the support person for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, or shortness of breath), conduct a temperature check prior to entering the clinical area, and every twelve hours thereafter, and screen for potential exposures to individuals testing positive for COVID-19."

New York state has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the US. As of Sunday morning, the state had more than 52,300 cases and at least 728 deaths from the virus.

The World Health Organization says "all pregnant women, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high quality care before, during and after childbirth," which includes "having a companion of choice present during delivery."

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