People looking for COVID test urged to avoid the ER
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is overwhelming hospitals, including those in Charlottesville.
For the first time, more than 3,300 patients in Virginia are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. This is 100 more patients than the previous record.
The spike in Omicron cases is leaving hospitals swamped with patients, including the University of Virginia Health System.
However, local doctors say that not all of the people showing up to the Emergency Department need to be there.
Many people who don't have symptoms of the virus are looking for a COVID test.
"Get testing at a testing center and do not use our emergency department if it is something that you can call your primary care provider or use an urgent care, that is ideal,” said Wendy Horton, the CEO of UVA Health Systems.
This week, the weather canceled many outdoor testing events across the state.
The Blue Ridge Health District says it's putting in overtime next week to help.
"Our team is working very hard to get some new testing resources to make up for what we couldn't offer this week,” said Jason Elliot, the spokesperson for BRHD.
Both BRHD and UVA are anticipating a spike in cases due to people gathering in warming shelters, homes, and hotels, due to power outages this week.
"We're keeping an eye on that and we will continue to do test investigations and all of the mitigation work that we can,” added Elliott.
BRHD is launching an additional test site on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fashion Square Mall. There will be 300 test slots available as well as testing every day next week.
"As far as testing, we are going to offer as many testing events as we can throughout the district for folks who have been exposed or feel like they really need to get those tests,” Elliott said.
Right now, UVA Health has 82 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, which is a significant increase from the previous weeks. The week before Thanksgiving, UVA hospitalizations were in the 20s.
The good news is that only around 25 percent of the hospital's COVID patients are in the ICU, compared to 50 percent during the Delta variant wave.