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EMS Data Shows Firearm Injuries Spiked During Pandemic and Remained Elevated Last Year

Rates of emergency medical services encounters for firearm injuries spiked in 2021 to more than 25% over 2019 levels, but they began to fall in the following years. However, rates were still higher in 2023 than before the Covid-19 pandemic began, says a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by CNN. When compared with the year before the pandemic, rates were 22% higher in 2020, 27% higher in 2021, 17% higher in 2022 and 14% higher in 2023 than in 2019, according to the CDC’s new research, published Thursday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Young Black men who live in urban areas with severe housing problems — such as overcrowding, high cost or a lack of functional facilities — and high unemployment and income disparities were the most vulnerable to that gun violence. The researchers took a closer look at data on people who sought help from EMS for a firearm injury in 858 counties in 27 states between January 2019 and September 2023. Because the study focused on these centers only, it cannot be generalizable and speak to trends nationally. It also can’t capture the number of people who immediately died from firearm injuries and thus didn’t need help from an emergency medical service. However, it offers a good snapshot of the level of gun violence across the country and which people are most likely to be injured, at least in some areas.


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