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Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Emergency Department Visits — United States, January 1, 2019–May 30, 2020

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Emergency Department Visits — United States, January 1, 2019–May 30, 2020

Hartnett KP, Kite-Powell A, DeVies J, Coletta MA, Boehmer TK, Adjemian J, Gundlapalli AV, National Syndromic Surveillance Program Community of Practice Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Early Release / Vol. 69 June 3, 2020.

Key Points:

  • Early in the COVID – 19 Pandemic, California in the USA along with Hong Kong, Autria and Italy noted significant drops in Emergency Department (ED) visits.
  • To assess the impact of COVID – 19 on US ED visits the CDC compared ED visits in the early Pandemic period in the USA for 4 weeks (March 29-April 25, 2020) to the comparable time period in 2019 (March 31-April 27).
  • ED visits were 42% less for the 2020-time frame compared to 2019 (Figure 1).
  • The largest decreases were for children under age 14, females and geographically in the Northeast (Figure 2).
  • It is difficult to directly assess the impact on cardiac events but the weekly mean visits for non-specific chest pain declined nationally by 24,258 visits, while weekly ED visits for cardiac arrest and ventricular fibrillation increased by 472, the most extreme ED visit adverse consequence that could be defined.
  • The CDC emphasizes that telemedicine screening is ideal for many lower risk conditions but emphasizes the importance of continually educating patients on the importance of seeking immediate ED evaluation for potentially cardiac events.
  • Health Care Providers and Hospitals are important sources of such information as has been reported here previously via the SCAI Every Second Still Counts information site and a joint Op Ed piece by the ACC and SCAI emphasizing this point.