The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted dramatic changes to the delivery of maternal health care; consumers’ fears of contracting the virus and the imperative of social distancing exacerbated discontinuities in care, limited in-person visits with providers, and increased reliance on telehealth. The public health crisis has also highlighted preexisting deficiencies in our health care system. Most notably, long-standing racial inequities in health care access and health outcomes have been amplified by the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color. The pandemic has also raised new challenges, increasing both medical and social needs while isolating people from community and family supports. On the other hand, the crisis has generated creative thinking and innovative strategies for safely reaching and serving patients. These developments are occurring during an ongoing maternal mortality and morbidity crisis in the United States, which has been further compounded by the public health emergency. In this brief, we identify challenges and promising strategies for addressing maternal health inequities during the COVID-19 crisis and opportunities for sustained improvements to maternal health after the pandemic.

Authors: Emily Burroughs, Ian Hill, Kima Joy Taylor, Sarah Benatar, Jennifer Haley, Eva Allen, Sarah Coquillat

Publication Date: May 2021

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