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San Angelo hospitals seeing an 80% decrease in ER cases for non-COVID-related emergencies/illnesses

The local health authority said the number of people they usually see for chest pain, back pain, and the usual thing that fill emergency departments has decreased.
Credit: Kami Simmons

SAN ANGELO, Texas — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, 80% of the things people go to the emergency departments in the area has decreased. 

About one in five adults avoid going to the hospital because of fear of COVID-19 exposure, even if they are experiencing symptoms typical of emergency medical conditions; a survey published Thursday by JAMA Network Open shows.

"I am not sure why they are not showing up at the ER. I can say that our numbers of people that we normally see for chest pain, back pain, the usual thing that fills up an emergency department, we do just not see them anymore," Dr. James Vretis, San Angelo/Tom Green County local health authority, said.

According to health researchers, people in need of medical treatment are avoiding emergency rooms out of fear of contracting COVID-19 from other patients in crowded emergency rooms, to name a few reasons.

Despite a decrease in everyday patients coming to hospitals, Vretis said medical experts are getting patients coming in for other needs. 

"Major trauma, we see right away. Someone comes in with an acute stroke, they get seen right away," Vretis said. 

He said the risk will always be there; however, it is vital to continue taking the necessary measures to do one's best to avoid getting COVID-19. 

"Theoretically, there is a risk. But if you show up at Walmart or any store in town, there is a risk you can get it there too. Where a mask, get vaccinated, do the smart thing," Vretis said. "If your chronic low back pain...it's probably not an emergency. It probably makes sense for you to stay home."

Medical personnel continues to encourage patients to contact their providers for emergency medical needs, including COVID-19.