PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association released new data Monday on hospitalizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began. VHHA is concerned about a decrease in hospital visits for other reasons, and about substance abuse and mental health.

COVID-19 scared a lot of people from going to hospitals and emergency rooms during the shutdown. Now more than two years later, the numbers still aren’t back to normal according to VHHA.

“One would like to think, well, that means people are healthier, but we know that is not necessarily the case,” said VHHA Vice President of Communications, Julian Walker.

New data from VHHA shows the number of people being admitted with major diseases and disorders is down nearly 7% since the pandemic began. Emergency department visits are down nearly 17%.

“What we want to do is make sure people are getting the care when they need it. People should not be delaying or putting off care,” Walker said.

Unfortunately, when it comes to alcohol, drugs and mental disorders, demand is skyrocketing.

“We are working with both our members (hospitals) and we are working with the state government to try to really target and identify resources and programs that are going to meet those needs for patients,” Walker told 10 On Your Side.

When it comes to COVID, Walker said hospitals saw a real surge in patients during the Omicron wave earlier this year. “That was the biggest peak the biggest spike that we’ve seen and that was two years into the pandemic.”

VHHA is now reporting more than 118,000 COVID hospitalizations in the commonwealth overall, and nearly 22,000 so far for this year.

“That tells you that while this is, in some respects, more manageable because the vast majority of the population in Virginia is vaccinated. Thankfully, this is still something that remains and lingers and is with us,” said Walker.

VHHA’s latest data release also shows the age of COVID patients decreased slightly to 68 during the Omicron surge and the length of a hospital stay increased to just over 10 days.