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LA County Paramedics Are Responding To More Calls Because Of COVID

Paramedics wearing facemasks work behind an ambulance at the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park on March 19, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
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L.A. County emergency medical officials have seen an uptick in calls related to the coronavirus.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Ron Haralson says that since mid-March his department has responded to an average of about 80 calls a day from patients suspected of having COVID-19: “We’re meaning flu-type symptoms — the coughs, the fevers, the seasonal type things that at first appearance appear to be your typical flu.”

Since March 15, the number of people that paramedics throughout L.A. County saw who had a fever spiked dramatically. That number was double, or on some days, triple the number of fevers first responders saw in patients the same time last year.

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Haralson says L.A. County paramedics are also protecting themselves with masks, goggles and gowns. Protocol calls for only one rescuer to go inside a home to assess the patient. He said:

“That’s in an effort to minimize our exposure as first responders and also protect the public and the patient. We’re seeing an approach that’s a little more slow and deliberate as far as when we get there.”

He says while the department is seeing more calls related to fever and other COVID-related symptoms, other emergency calls are down as people are staying indoors.

Here's a closer look at how the response to COVID-related symptoms compare to last year's flu season. The orange lines show 2020 and the blue lines show 2019.