Gun violence spiked in the United States in the first year of the pandemic, adding strain to an already overwhelmed health care system.
Between March 2020 and February 2021, there were about 62,500 firearm-related incidents in the US – 15% higher than expected based on previous trends, according to a study published Thursday. These incidents resulted in more than 10,000 excess non-fatal injuries and about 4,400 excess deaths.
Early in the pandemic, as hospitals filled to capacity and patients overflowed into hallways, emergency rooms in particular were seeing fewer patients than usual.
Car crashes dropped off in 2020 as lockdown measures kept many at home and off the road, and the threat of Covid-19 infection probably kept many from seeking non-urgent care.
But gun violence persisted despite the Covid-19 prevention measures in place, and the spike in violence translated to a direct effect on the nation’s health care system.
While Covid-19 hospitalizations have recently dropped to the lowest point on record, stress on hospitals remains – and some experts say that addressing gun violence should be a top priority to help ease the strain.
Emergency rooms saw more gun violence victims
Overall emergency department visits dropped 26%, but visits for firearm injury jumped 34%, according to data shared with CNN by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality analyzed preliminary data for 29 states between April and December 2020 and compared it to data from the same period a year earlier.