Routine Coronavirus Testing Should Not Be Sought at Emergency Departments

SPRINGFIELD — As the demand for COVID-19 testing surges as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the community and across the nation — combined with a shortage of rapid tests and limited appointment slots available for PCR tests in much of the U.S. — public-health officials are urging people not to go to hospital emergency departments to get a coronavirus test.

“During the last couple of weeks, Baystate Health’s emergency departments have seen a dramatic increase in visits from people presenting for COVID testing that could be done at community sites specified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health,” said Dr. Andrew Artenstein, chief physician executive and chief academic officer at Baystate Health.

To find a testing location near you, visit mass.gov/gettested. People with mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic but who suspect they may have COVID-19, and those seeking testing for travel, should contact their primary-care provider or seek out one of the testing sites located on the website.

“Going to the ED for non-emergency COVID-19 testing without serious symptoms requiring immediate attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain which could be symptomatic of COVID-19 or other critical illness, diverts essential, life-saving resources from patients who are experiencing a true emergency,” Artenstein said.