June 5, 2020
A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that emergency department (ED) visits declined 42% during the early period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which collects electronic health data in real time, found that ED visits declined from a mean of 2.1 million visits per week (March 31–April 27, 2019) to 1.2 million visits (March 29–April 25, 2020), with the steepest decreases in persons under 14 years of age, females and the Northeast. The proportion of infectious disease-related visits was four times higher during the early pandemic period.
To minimize 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.