Michiganders avoided hospitals during COVID-19 and died, new data shows

The coronavirus pandemic proved deadly in Michigan even among people who may not have had the virus, according to new data released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
That’s because people with heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening medical problems avoided emergency medical care at hospitals during the height of the COVID-19 surge in Michigan.
The number of out-of-hospital deaths recorded by emergency medical services increased 62% in Michigan from March 15-May 23 compared with the same time period in 2019.
In addition, the data, compiled from state EMS agencies, shows:
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported emergency department visits declined by 42% during the early months of the pandemic with a 23% decrease in emergency visits for heart attacks and a 20% decrease for stroke in the 10 weeks following the declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19.
More: 1 in 3 put off medical care because of COVID-19. It almost cost a Redford man his life
More: Inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 sickens more than 20 Michigan kids
“It is incredibly important that people not delay care, especially if they are having concerning symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing or dizziness,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for the MDHHS, in a news release. “Hospitals and EMS providers are working hard to keep patients safe, so please contact them if you are having a medical emergency.”
The Michigan Association of Ambulance Services reports that EMS providers use protective gear and follow protocols to disinfect and clean surfaces to ensure they won’t transmit the virus to patients.
“Medical emergencies have not gone away during the pandemic,” said Jack Fisher, president of the MAAS and executive director of Medic 1 Ambulance in Berrien County. “Every minute counts in a medical emergency and we hope this alarming trend of people avoiding care and dying needlessly doesn’t continue.”
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