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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Expectant mothers are facing some daunting new realities amid the coronavirus outbreak.

What's happening: Some doctors, especially in areas that haven't seen large numbers of cases yet, are encouraging women to induce their labor. That can help keep mothers and babies out of the hospital later, when the risk of a coronavirus infection will be higher, and also helps free up beds that may be needed for COVID-19 patients.

  • Hospitals in coronavirus hotspots also have banned partners and doulas from delivery units, to keep everyone's exposure limited.

Yes, but: Several doctors told Axios an induction isn't always a good idea. In some cases, it can prolong labor, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn't recommend it before the 39th week of pregnancy.

  • "Inducing them now doesn't mean that in a week you're suddenly out of pregnant patients," said Abimbola Aina, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Doing things without an obstetrical indication is probably not the safest thing to do at the moment."

Family planning is also taking a hit, as hospitals temporarily suspend procedures such as in vitro fertilization.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

New coronavirus infections fell by almost 15% over the past week, continuing a steady downward trend.

Why it matters: The standard caveats still apply — progress can always fall apart, the U.S. is climbing down from a very high number of cases, and this is far from over. But this is undeniably good news. Things are getting better.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

FDA authorizes Abbott's $5 rapid COVID-19 test

Results from the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test will be available in roughly 15 minutes. Photo: Courtesy of Abbott Laboratories.

Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday it received emergency use authorization (EAU) from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 test that works without lab equipment.

The big picture: Abbott said it will ramp up production of its "highly portable," $5 tests to 50 million by the beginning of October.

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