Activity and the Incidence of Emergencies: Evidence From Daily Data at the Onset of a Pandemic
44 Pages Posted: 7 May 2020 Last revised: 29 May 2020
Date Written: May 26, 2020
Health care practitioners around the globe have observed that the COVID-19 crisis has been associated with an unprecedented decrease in non-COVID-19 visits to emergency departments. We corroborate this observation using administrative daily data from Chile and study the potential causes for this decrease. To that end, we merge regional emergency visits with Google mobility data and show that the crisis-induced changes in mobility patterns explain a significant portion of the overall drop in non-respiratory emergency room visits, especially for visits related to trauma and poisoning. Our results reveal that an important reason for the dramatic drop in non-COVID-19 utilization of emergency care is the lower incidence of emergencies. This result suggests that lockdown measures may have the unexpected benefit for public health of freeing up healthcare resources to confront the pandemic.
Keywords: Emergency, COVID-19, hospitals
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