Rising Incidence of Interpersonal Violence in Pennsylvania During COVID-19 Stay-At Home Order

The COVID-19 pandemic has left its impact on many health and political issues -- notably, it appears to have been accompanied by rising interpersonal violence. Contributed to by PISC Senior Scholar Elinore Kaufman, MD, MSHP, this study aimed to evaluate the impact of the March 2020 statewide stay-at-home order in Pennsylvania on the incidence of injuries due to interpersonal violence. After analyzing the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study registry, it found that there were fewer total trauma admissions in 2020 versus 2018 and 2019, with gunshot wounds (GSWs) increasing and blunt assault injuries decreasing. In all time periods, interpersonal violence primarily impacted urban counties. African American men were predominantly affected by GSW and stab wounds (SW), while Caucasian men were predominantly affected by blunt assault injuries. There were more patients with substance abuse disorders and positive drug screens during COVID than in comparison periods, but there was no correlation between the incidence of interpersonal violence and COVID-19 rates at the county level. Based on the results, the authors conclude that, "Preparedness for future resurgences of COVID-19 and other pandemics calls for plans to address injury prevention, recidivism, and access to mental health and substance abuse prevention services."

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