Hospitals are full, doctors urge you not to go to the emergency room for a COVID-19 test

Testing for COVID-19 is increasing across the state as the Delta variant spreads. But some things may have changed since you were last tested.
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 8:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Testing for COVID-19 is increasing across the state as the Delta variant spreads. But some things may have changed since you were last tested.

Hospital systems are noticing an increase in patients; some with COVID-19 and others are there for unrelated needs. Because the hospitals are so busy, Novant Health ER Physician Dr. Dan Martinie is asking you to only come to the emergency department if you’re experiencing an emergency.

“Our volumes are way up. We’re running at full capacity. All the hospital beds are full and have been for weeks. That goes for most hospitals in the city,” Dr. Martinie said.

Just because hospitals are full does not mean they do not have the capacity to treat patients, but patients may have to wait longer. Which is why it is important to only go to the emergency room if you are experiencing an emergency. Dr Martinie explained that many people are coming to the ER to get a COVID-19 test when they are not showing symptoms.

“It’s not the best use of this resource. There are people who are really sick and in trouble and they need these resources,” Dr. Martinie said.

Dr. Martinie says they will test you for COVID-19, but it bogs down their physicians who could be working with patients who have more pressing needs. It also will cost you more money than going to a designated COVID-19 testing site.

“If you’re uninsured and you come in for a test, you won’t get billed for the COVID-test, but you’re going to get billed for that room that you waited six hours for,” Dr. Martinie said.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act still provides COVID-19 testing to anyone in the U.S. at no-cost, even the uninsured. However, you must go to a location that is funding through this federal program.

You can get a COVID-19 test for free at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. Select health centers are also providing free COVID-19 testing through the program.

You can find a ‘No-Cost’ Community Testing event near you by clicking here.

Other testing locations near you can be found by clicking here, but NCDHHS warns that you may be charged a fee.

You can also request an at-home COVID-19 test at ‘No-Cost’ by clicking here.

At-home COVID-19 tests are available at some pharmacies, but those must be paid for out of pocket.

To schedule a COVID-19 test through Atrium Health click here.

To schedule a COVID-19 test through Novant Health click here:

You should check with your provider or insurance company to see if your COVID-19 test is covered.

Even fully vaccinated people will need to be aware of COVID-19 testing changes. Last week, the CDC updated its COVID-19 testing recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Now, the agency says if a fully vaccinated person is exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should get a COVID-19 test 3 to 5 days after exposure. Previously, CDC guidance stated fully vaccinated people did not need to be tested if they were exposed, unless they were showing symptoms.

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