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How Department of Public Health, hospitals want you to help stop latest COVID spike
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People are tested for the COVID-19 virus Friday, May 15, 2020, in the parking lot of the Flor de Jalisco supermarket. The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging people not to go to hospitals for COVID-19 testing, a day after the United States broke its daily record for coronavirus cases. - photo by Scott Rogers

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The Georgia Department of Public Health and many of the state’s hospital systems are urging people not to go to hospitals for COVID-19 testing, a day after the United States broke its daily record for coronavirus cases. 

“To help keep hospital emergency departments open to treat medical emergencies, individuals seeking COVID testing should not go to hospital emergency departments, unless they are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms requiring urgent medical attention,” DPH said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.

Northeast Georgia Health System, along with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Piedmont Healthcare and Wellstar Health System issued a joint statement Wednesday evening urging the public to take steps to stem the spread, saying hospitals are “experiencing a staggering surge.” 

“To keep emergency rooms available to individuals who have the most critical health needs, individuals should obtain care at the most appropriate medical facility for their condition and seek COVID-19 testing at primary care locations, public health and mass testing sites or use at-home testing kits,” the statement reads.

The joint statement also urged people to get fully vaccinated and boosted, to only call 911 in an emergency, to consult their doctor if diagnosed with COVID-19, and continue to follow CDC and DPH guidelines. 

DPH said to alleviate delays it is critical that people register online before going to a DPH testing site. The Times has compiled a list of ways to find a testing site near you

On Tuesday, DPH warned that COVID-19 cases increased rapidly during the holiday weekend, nearly doubling since Friday due to the highly transmissible omicron variant. It added that this “recent spike in cases mirrors the first months of COVID-19 infections.”

DPH also continues to urge people to get vaccinated. 

“Vaccination is the most important strategy available to us against COVID-19 variants,” said District 2 Public Health Director, Zachary Taylor. 

Only 46% of Hall County residents are fully vaccinated.