Arthur J. Vayer Jr. and Steven C. Arner column: Don’t let COVID-19 fear delay necessary medical care

By now, we all know the COVID-19 safety rules: Stay home whenever possible, maintain social distance and wear a mask in public. These simple rules are an important way to help us stay safe and keep our families healthy. Another equally important way to protect personal health is to continue to get necessary medical care. Unfortunately, many people have delayed needed medical care out of fear that a doctor’s office or hospital visit might expose them to COVID-19. Indeed, research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that through June 30, more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults delayed or avoided care due to COVID-19 fears.

The data tells a similar story in the commonwealth. Virginia hospital data show that patient volumes were down 11% during the first half of 2020 and emergency department visits were down a startling 38%. This includes sharp declines in patients seeking emergency care for a stroke or a heart attack, potentially fatal conditions that require immediate attention. In September, Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy asked Virginians if they’ve delayed care during COVID-19 and found that 14% of parents said they have delayed vaccinations for their children and that 39% of adults have put off care this year.

While safety concerns are understandable, people should know that delaying needed medical treatment is much riskier than visiting a doctor’s office or hospital in Virginia…

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