Emergency room visits plummeted 42% amid the coronavirus pandemic as Americans skipped medical care overs fears they’d catch COVID-19, CDC report reveals
- In 2019, a mean of 2,099,734 emergency room visits per week took place between March 31 and April 27.
- This fell by 42% to a mean of 1,220,211 per week between March 29 and April 25 in 2020
- The largest drops were seen in kids with a 72% decline among those 10 years old and younger and a 71% decrease among those ages 11 to 14
- Geographically, the Northeast saw the biggest decline at 49% followed by the region that includes New Jersey and New York at 48%
- The CDC says that Americans were worried about catching coronavirus if they sought medical care at an emergency department
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
As the number of hospitalized coronavirus cases increased in the US, the number of emergency room visits decreased, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds.
Emergency department visits fell by more than 40 percent during the peak of the pandemic compared to the same time last year, according to the report, released on Wednesday.
The largest declines were seen among Americans aged 14 or younger, females and those living in the Northeast.
Researchers say adults likely were fearful of seeking medical care for themselves or their children over fears they’d catch COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
A new CDC report found that emergency room visits in the US fell by 42% from the weeks between March 31 and April 27 in 2019 to the weeks between March 29 and April 25 in 2020 (above)
The largest drops were seen in kids with a 72% decline among those 10 years old and younger and a 71% decrease among those ages 11 to 14 (above)
Geographically, the Northeast (Region 1) aw the biggest decline at 49% followed by the region that includes New Jersey and New York (Region 2) at 48% (above)
For the report, the team looked at the weekly number of emergency department visits nationwide from January 1 to May 30 during 2019 and 2020.
Next, they specifically analyzed visits that occurred during late March to late April.
In 2019, a mean of 2,099,734 emergency visits per week took place between March 31 and April 27.
But, between March 29, 2020 and April 25, 2020 – the height of the pandemic – visits a 42 percent decline to a mean of 1,220,211 per week.
Over that four-week period, the lowest number of visits occurred during the week of April 12 to April 18.
Visits fell among every age group, with the sharpest drops seen in children. There was a 72 percent decline from 2019 to 2020 among those 10 years old and younger and a 71 percent decrease among those ages 11 to 14.
In 2019, 12 percent of all emergency visits were in children aged 10 or younger compared to six percent over the same period in 2020.
The large declines were seen in visits for the flu, ear infections, other upper respiratory illnesses, nausea/vomiting and asthma.
Drops were also seen in specific geographic drops, mostly in the Northeast, which saw a 49 percent decline, followed by the region that includes New Jersey and New York.
Fewer females went to the emergency room in 2020, dropping 45 percent from 2019 to 2020 although males saw a 37 percent decline.
The CDC says that Americans were worried about catching coronavirus if they sought medical care at an emergency department. Pictured: Nurses care for a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at t Regional Medical Center in San Jose, California, May 21
Across all age groups, the largest declines were seen in visits for abdominal pain or other symptoms, musculoskeletal pain, and hypertension.
Although visits are starting to pick back up, visits for the most recent complete week May 24 to May 30, were 26 percent lower than the same week in 2019.
‘The number of visits for conditions including nonspecific chest pain and acute myocardial infarction decreased, suggesting that some persons could be delaying care for conditions that might result in additional mortality if left untreated,’ the authors wrote.
They also noted that people were likely scared to go to the emergency room but don’t have access to other forms of medicine.
‘Persons who use the ED as a safety net because they lack access to primary care and telemedicine might be disproportionately affected if they avoid seeking care because of concerns about the infection risk in the ED,’ they wrote.