Emergency department visits for firearm injuries in the United States declined slightly since 2020, but rates in 2022 were still above pre-pandemic levels.
according to a new study Published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the weekly number of emergency department visits related to firearm injuries began rising in March 2020 and remained high, before rising sharply in March 2020.
The sharpest increase in visits occurred the week of May 24, 2020, “a period of social unrest over strained law enforcement-community relations and longstanding systemic inequities, structural racism, and trauma experienced by racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States.” during” . , ” the authors wrote in the study.
George Floyd was killed by three former Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020. The video of his death sparked a nationwide outcry concerning systemic racism and inequality.
In 2021, the rate drops slightly from 2020. In 2022, the rate fell again, but remained above the rate of weekly emergency department visits related to firearm injuries in 2019, before the pandemic.
Compared to the rate of visits in 2019, 2020 was 37% higher than the previous year, 2021 was 36% higher than 2019, and 2022 was 20% higher than that year.
According to the study, in 2019, the average weekly number of visits was around 979.
In 2022, the average number of weekly trips reaches 1,170.
Of those 1,170 visits, about 180 were for women and about 990 were for men.
In general, most visitors between 2019 and 2022 were between the ages of 15 and 24, but there was a sharp increase in infants to 14-year-olds going to the emergency department for firearm injuries.
In 2019, an average of 29 people who visited the emergency department for firearm-related injuries were 0 to 14 years old.
In 2022, on average, infants to 14-year-olds will make about 40 of the 1,170 weekly visits.
The authors offered some background as to why visits among children increased.
The study authors wrote, “Challenges facing children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced firearm injury risk, including disruption of daily routines and schooling. ”
Social isolation, physical distancing, increased time at home, changes in access to health care, and reduced safety and security may increase access to firearms in the home for children.
According to the study, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of firearm homicides increased by 35%, and in 2020 the rate was the highest on record since 1993.
In 2021, the suicide rate by firearms was the highest on record since 1990.
According to previous data from the CDC, during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, rates of firearm homicide and suicide by firearm in US counties with the highest poverty levels were 4.5 and 1.3 times higher, respectively, than in counties with the lowest poverty levels.
According to the CDC, firearms were involved in 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides in the US in the same year.
The study notes that more research is needed to better understand the overall reasons for the increase in emergency department visits for firearm injuries.
This data should be used to create a comprehensive approach to prevent and respond to firearm injuries, and to address the social and economic disparities that contribute to increased risk of violence, the study says.
These strategies should be community-based, according to the study, and could include street outreach programs and conflict de-escalation tools.
The study authors also suggest implementing hospital-based programs that intervene with victims of violence and improve community physical environments through healing spaces.
Outside of community initiatives, the authors say that secure firearms storage may reduce access to firearms by people who may injure themselves or others.