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Coronavirus ER visits in Tarrant County decline after business closures in mid-March

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The share of patients seeking emergency care for symptoms associated with coronavirus has declined in Tarrant County since restrictions were enacted that closed restaurants, schools and bars and limited gatherings to 10 people.
On March 16, data released by the county indicates that 120 people visited the emergency rooms of Tarrant’s 16 hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms. They represented 4 percent of total ER visits. But by March 20, ER visitors with COVID-19 symptoms had fallen by nearly half, to about 65 visitors and just over 2 percent of total visits. The number between March 20 and March 24 varied but never surpassed about 90 visitors, staying below the March 16 total.

The decline in ER visitors with coronavirus symptoms coincided with a Fort Worth citywide order that created social distancing guidelines for many businesses on March 16 and a countywide order to close all restaurants and bars March 18.
Results were not made available for emergency room visits since March 24. Tarrant County announced a stay-at-home order, with even stricter regulations than the restaurant and bar closures, on March 24.

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The number of emergency room visitors with coronavirus symptoms is still higher than in February and early March, when no more than 60 people visited symptoms in a single day and visitors with the symptoms never accounted for more than 2 percent of total visitors.
Many of the ER visitors with COVID-19 symptoms did not test positive for the virus. Tarrant County had 273 confirmed and provisionally positive cases as of Tuesday.


Latest data available of Unacast Social Distancing Metric by county. It is derived from a comparison of daily mobile phone movement with pre-COVID19 outbreak mobile phone movement. Tap the map to see information on by county. Data provided by Unacast.
The Tarrant County Public Health Department did not respond to an interview request seeking its interpretation of the data.
Other data has illustrated the efficacy of social distancing in the area. As of last week, according to a company that tracks smartphones globally, the average mobility of Tarrant County residents had declined 46 percent compared to the end of February.
Health care experts have said social distancing is necessary to keep area hospitals from being overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council estimated the state’s 200,000-hospitalization capacity of the area would be exceeded in April without strict stay at home orders statewide.

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