Despite Pandemic, Trauma Centers See No End To ‘The Visible Virus Of Violence’

CHICAGO — On an early March day at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center teemed with patients.

But many weren’t there because of the coronavirus. They were there because they’d been shot.

Gunshot victims account for most of the 2,600 adult trauma patients a year who come to this hospital on the city’s sprawling South Side. And the pandemic hasn’t dampened the flow.

“The visible virus of violence continues unabated,” said trauma chief Dr. Selwyn Rogers Jr.

The Chicago hospital’s experience mirrors what’s happening at other metropolitan trauma units around the nation, where the number of patients seeking care for injuries caused by what’s known as penetrating trauma — gunshot wounds or stabbings — appear to be holding steady, straining hospitals already busy fighting COVID-19.

The Hyde Park hospital’s Level 1 trauma center has been bustling since it launched

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