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The harms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have been innumerable, including illness, death and disability, unemployment and devastation of small businesses, hunger, educational losses, and amplification of racial and social inequities. In this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, 2 articles shed light on another cost: deferral of care for serious non–COVID-19 conditions, such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
Blecker et al1 and Bhambhvani et al2 examined admissions to hospitals in New York and California during the pandemic and found dramatic reductions in presentations for non–COVID-19 conditions compared with prior years. These included medical emergencies, such as appendicitis, for which the true incidence was unlikely to have changed. There was also a decrease in admissions for exacerbations of chronic disease, such as heart failure. Bhambhvani et al2 found greater reductions at a hospital in New York than one in California, suggesting that deferral of care may be associated with the intensity of the surrounding epidemic.
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Published Online: October 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4016
Corresponding Author: Colette DeJong, MD, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave, Room M-987, San Francisco, CA 94143 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Covinsky reported receiving grants from the National Institute on Aging. No other disclosures were reported.
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