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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Doctors at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital’s emergency department say they believe sick people are avoiding the hospital for fear of catching COVID-19.

The daily arrivals at the emergency department have fallen by more than half to about 130 on average since early March, UK doctors said Friday at a news conference.

“Our patients are not showing up,” said Dr. Daniel Moore, UK HealthCare’s assistant medical director of emergency medicine. “There is talk in the media about staying home, which is certainly appropriate if you don’t have an emergency condition. But what we have seen is that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.”

UK Chandler Hospital’s emergency department has performed 1,800 tests for the coronavirus so far with only about 80 positive results, “so prevalence is still low,” Moore said.

Doctors said new patients are screened by a triage nurse and those with coronavirus symptoms are taken to an isolated area with its own staff and 24 beds, the Herald-Leader reported.

“We are doing everything in our power to segment these patients,” Moore said. “If you’re worried about getting the coronavirus coming to you through the emergency department, that risk is exceedingly low right now.”

The state reported 171 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday for a total of 3,905. There were five new deaths reported on Saturday.

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