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High demand for at-home COVID tests burdening hospitals as asymptomatic, mild cases show up at emergency rooms

If you need a COVID-19 test and cannot find one at a store – don’t visit the emergency room.

That’s the message from doctors at hospitals in the Finger Lakes area as they deal with an influx of patients who require a bed, as well as those simply seeking a COVID-19 test.

“If you need a confirmatory test, we would encourage people to seek those through pharmacies and channels away from our emergency rooms,” Dr. Robert Mayo explained. He serves as chief medical officer for Rochester Regional Health.


Hospital systems across the Finger Lakes have seen a significant number of patients who either have mild symptoms- or none at all- showing up at the hospital for a test.

“We have had a number of people showing up there and they really don’t need to go through the expense and time needed to do that in an emergency department,” Dr. Mayo added.

Critics say there are two problems with that logic. First, the lack of at-home tests. While some counties in the region have been distributing them- others have not- and in those places many stores have been out of stock. Second, is the distribution events that county and state leaders have promised. They haven’t been able to keep up with demand either.



 

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