Don’t Let COVID-19 Fears Keep You From the ER

Almost half of Americans, 41%, said they did not seek medical care during the pandemic because they were afraid of getting COVID-19, according to research.

The study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found that 12% of U.S. adults avoided or delayed urgent or emergency care because of the disease.

According to experts, this avoidance was primarily among “unpaid caregivers for adults, persons with underlying medical conditions, Black adults, Hispanic adults, young adults, and persons with disabilities.”

Dr. Anish K. Agarwal, an assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and Dr. Jeffrey Millstein, a primary care physician in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, wrote an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, stating that emergency departments, or EDs, are not associated with increased risk of COVID-19.

“ED’s are the appropriate and safe place to go if you are concerned,” they wrote, adding that urgent medical conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and trauma remained unabated during the pandemic and need to be treated quickly.

People are also avoiding routine medical treatment, which could lead to serious consequences down the road, say experts.

According to an article published in Science, the author, Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, said “fear of contracting the coronavirus in healthcare settings has dissuaded people from screening, diagnosis and treatment for non-COVID-19 diseases. The consequences for cancer outcomes, for example, could be substantial.”

So, the message is do not delay medical treatment out of fear of catching COVID-19 as the outcome could be dire.

“Although COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb, we have learned a great deal about this virus and how to keep our patients safe,” said the authors, according to the Inquirer. Emergency departments follow strict COVID-19 hospital cleaning protocols and procedures, including screening anyone entering the facility and enforcing the wearing of face masks and social distancing.

“If you feel that you need urgent or emergency care, emergency departments are there to care for you safely, 24/7,” said the doctors. “Don’t let unwarranted COVID-19 fears keep you from getting the care you need.”

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