Houston officials worry COVID-19 fears are driving down necessary hospitalizations

EMS calls for suspected heart attacks are down nearly 50% since the coronavirus outbreak began in Houston. (Courtesy Houston Public Health)
EMS calls for suspected heart attacks are down nearly 50% since the coronavirus outbreak began in Houston. (Courtesy Houston Public Health)

EMS calls for suspected heart attacks are down nearly 50% since the coronavirus outbreak began in Houston. (Courtesy Houston Public Health)

Between February 2020 and April 2020 EMS calls for suspected heart attacks in Houston were down 50% according to data from Houston Public Health.

"The waiting rooms are not crowded,” Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse told reporters June 1. “If you’re having a heart attack ... you don't need to be afraid of catching the coronavirus at the hospital. Hospitals are safe to go to.”

In February, the Houston Fire Department saw 37 heart attacked-related EMS calls and by April that number had dropped to 20.

The drop represents a worrying trend that other health authorities have seen across the country during the coronavirus outbreak, Persse said.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said he encourages residents to continue to call for help when needed.


“If you need 9-1-1, we encourage you to call 9-1-1,” he said. “We are taking every precaution to ensure your safety and ensure the safety of our firefighters.”

Some of the most common health emergencies are heart attacks and strokes, Persse said. Both are not always fatal but need to be addressed quickly.


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