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ED Visits Down Dec. 2020 to Jan. 2021 Versus Prepandemic

THURSDAY, April 15, 2021 -- Emergency department visits were lower during December 2020 to January 2021 compared with prepandemic levels one year earlier, according to research published in the April 16 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jennifer Adjemian, Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues examined trends in emergency department visits since Dec. 30, 2018, and compared the numbers and types of emergency department visits for Dec. 20, 2020, to Jan. 16, 2021, to those for Dec. 15, 2019, to Jan. 11, 2020.

The researchers found that after an initial decrease during March to April 2020, there was an increase in emergency department visits through July 2020, but at levels below those during 2019; during December 2020 to January 2021, there was a decrease of 25 percent in visits compared with prepandemic levels. During this time, emergency department visits were lower by 66, 63, 38, and 17 percent among patients aged 0 to 4, 5 to 11, 12 to 17, and 18 years and older, respectively, compared with the corresponding levels during the same period before the pandemic. During December 2020 to January 2021, there were more visits for infectious diseases or mental and behavioral health-related concerns, while fewer visits were seen for gastrointestinal and upper respiratory-related illnesses compared with December 2019 to January 2020.

"As the nation continues to manage the impact of the ongoing pandemic, public understanding of the importance of seeking guidance and emergency care for acute and mental or behavioral health conditions is necessary," the authors write.

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