Emergency room visits have dropped sharply, data shows

The CDC attributes the drop to fears over the new coronavirus, and the drop was steepest among young people and women.

New national data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that visits to the emergency room dropped by 42% this spring, a massive decline that could lead to serious medical conditions being missed.

The new numbers raise concerns because waiting too long to get treatment for serious conditions like heart attacks or strokes can be fatal.

Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez, a cardiologist based at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says if you are experiencing concerning symptoms, you should call 911 or your doctor immediately.

“You’re better off asking questions finding out what’s wrong than making assumptions and staying at home,” Dr. Gonzalez says. “Make a phone call to your primary care doctor or a specialist. They will be able to tell you what kind of care you need.”

“And, of course, if you’re feeling symptoms that may indicate you’re having a heart attack or stroke, don’t hesitate to call 911,” he says.

Hospitals have taken significant steps to try to ensure that facilities are safe to visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocate Aurora Health has made a Safe Care Promise to patients, a policy that means everyone must wear masks, people can check in virtually, and waiting room chairs are spaced out to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Gonzalez says that while hospitals work to lower COVID-19 risks, the risk of a heart attack can’t be ignored.

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