Bay Area Hospitals Ask People Not to Go to ER for COVID Tests, Mild Symptoms

An added challenge many emergency rooms are seeing, are people going there looking for COVID tests

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Hospitals across the Bay Area are deep into this wave of COVID-19 infections. Doctors and nurses are feeling the impacts of more patients and fewer co-workers because of exposures and sick calls.

An added challenge many emergency rooms are seeing, are people going there looking for COVID tests. 

"We're seeing a lot of COVID,” said Dr. Maria Raven, chief of emergency medicine at UCSF. “We're seeing more COVID at the emergency department than we saw during subsequent surges of COVID.”

The good news is, with such a high vaccination rate in the Bay Area, the vast majority of patients are experiencing minor symptoms. 

And those patients who are suffering more serious cases are largely recovering, if they're vaccinated.

But many people going to the ER don’t need to be, so it’s trying up resources.

"If patients are coming to the ER without COVID symptoms and are just looking for a COVID test, we really recommend that they go to another location in the county,” said Dr. Clifford Wang of the Valley Medical Center in San Jose.

And Doctor Dusan Ehrlich at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital last weekend said, "Don't come to the emergency department either because you want a COVID test or because you're having mild symptoms of COVID."

As hospitals juggle smaller staff because doctors and nurses are sick, or are having to isolate because of COVID-19 protocols, emergency department heads across the Bay Area are asking people to keep emergency rooms for true emergencies.  

Raven said that if you happen to test positive at home, and have mild symptoms, isolate at home, and avoid contact with other people.

"Yeah, if you have a positive test, and you’re thinking you want to have a confirmatory test or something like that, the emergency department is probably not a good place to do that," said Raven.

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