November 10, 2020

Increase in firearm injuries after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, finds that the social isolation brought on by stay-at-home orders (SAHO) issued during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in intentional penetrating injuries, especially from firearms, and the injuries remain at high levels today.

As of October 19, Philadelphia has experienced 386 homicides, a 39% increase over the same time last year.

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Analysis of emergency department (ED) visits before SAHO and after SAHO finds:

  • a higher proportion of men presenting with trauma, accounting for 64.4% of cases before and 72.1% of cases after SAHO
  • more younger trauma patients presenting, with a mean patient age of 47. 4 (range 22.1 years) before and 42.9 (range 20.3 years) after SAHO
  • a higher proportion of nonwhite patients presenting with trauma, accounting for 69.5% before and 77.7% after SAHO
  • nearly doubling the proportion of visits for gunshot wounds, from 12.6% before to 22.9% after SAHO.

The researchers concluded that unprecedented social isolation policies in response to COVID-19 were associated with increased intentional injury, especially gun violence, while nonintentional injury visits to the ED decreased. Public health measures should embrace intentional injury prevention and management strategies, they say.


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