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CARMICHAEL, Calif. (KTXL) — Local emergency rooms are seeing fewer patients than they normally do and doctors say it’s because of COVID-19.

Nationally, hospitalizations were down about 42% in March and April and Sacramento was no exception.

“They’ve picked up a little bit these past couple of months. We’re probably about 20 to 25% volume down if you look at all of the emergency departments throughout Sacramento,” Mercy San Juan Emergency Room Director Dr. Nicole Braxley told FOX40 Wednesday.

Braxley said some people are waiting too long to come to the hospital.

“There is a trend that people are coming to the ER a little bit too late,” Braxley explained. “And so even though our overall volumes are down when patients do arrive, they tend to be more sick than we’ve seen, let’s say, last year at this time.”

Braxley said many people she talks with are scared to be in hospitals when they need medical treatment the most.

“If you think about it, the hospital is actually one of the safest places you can be. A hundred percent of people are masked, all of the clinical providers are wearing face shields or goggles,” Braxley said. “We’re sanitizing like crazy. We’re separating outpatients that have COVID-19 symptoms from ones who do not. We’re really going above and beyond to try to keep everyone safe.”

She said there are certain symptoms you should always come to a hospital to get checked out.

“Chest pain, shortness of breath, some type of dehydration, so vomiting or diarrhea where you can’t keep fluids down,” Braxley listed. “Those symptoms you really can’t ignore.”

She has also seen a surge in people using telehealth services.

Braxley said it’s a great option for non-emergency symptoms or pre-screening for more serious issues but she reiterated the importance of visiting an emergency room when more severe symptoms are present.