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

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Jun 12;69(23):699-704. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6923e1.

Abstract

On March 13, 2020, the United States declared a national emergency to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). As the number of persons hospitalized with COVID-19 increased, early reports from Austria (1), Hong Kong (2), Italy (3), and California (4) suggested sharp drops in the numbers of persons seeking emergency medical care for other reasons. To quantify the effect of COVID-19 on U.S. emergency department (ED) visits, CDC compared the volume of ED visits during four weeks early in the pandemic March 29-April 25, 2020 (weeks 14 to 17; the early pandemic period) to that during March 31-April 27, 2019 (the comparison period). During the early pandemic period, the total number of U.S. ED visits was 42% lower than during the same period a year earlier, with the largest declines in visits in persons aged ≤14 years, females, and the Northeast region. Health messages that reinforce the importance of immediately seeking care for symptoms of serious conditions, such as myocardial infarction, are needed. To minimize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, transmission risk and address public concerns about visiting the ED during the pandemic, CDC recommends continued use of virtual visits and triage help lines and adherence to CDC infection control guidance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19