What is striking is that many of the emergencies have disappeared. Heart attack and stroke teams, always poised to rush in and save lives, are mostly idle. This is not just at my hospital. My fellow cardiologists have shared with me that their cardiology consultations have shrunk, except those related to Covid-19. In an informal Twitter poll by @angioplastyorg, an online community of cardiologists, almost half of the respondents reported that they are seeing a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in admissions for heart attacks; about 20 percent reported more than a 60 percent reduction.
And this is not a phenomenon specific to the United States. Investigators from Spain reported a 40 percent reduction in emergency procedures for heart attacks during the last week of March compared with the period just before the pandemic hit.
And it may not just be heart attacks and strokes. Colleagues on Twitter report a decline in many other emergencies, including acute appendicitis and acute gall bladder disease.
The most concerning possible explanation is that people stay home and suffer rather than risk coming to the hospital and getting infected with coronavirus.