Don't Show Up at ERs or Urgent Care for a COVID-19 Test, Doctors Say

Across North Texas, emergency facilities say the influx of people using emergency services as a testing site is putting adding to the patient overload

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Doctors and nurses say while they're busy treating sick COVID-19 patients, they're also been an influx of those just looking for a COVID-19 test.

"We are also seeing a record number of patients presenting to our urgent care clinics wanting rapid COVID tests for their children," said Dr. Kara Starnes, medical director of Urgent Care Services for Cook Children's in Fort Worth.

On Wednesday doctors and administrators from Cook Children's explained how they're feeling the strain of the increased patient demand and lack of staffing. She said an increase in requests for tests is adding to the problem.

"So rushing in to be seen immediately is causing an increased volume in the clinics," said Starnes.

Methodist Hospital System put out a similar message on social media reminding people that their emergency room is not a COVID-19 testing site.

The increase in COVID-19 cases, plus the need for a negative test to either travel, go back to school, or work, is also driving the demand for more testing. Compared to last year, the large testing hubs aren't around which have people looking for any avenue to get a test quickly.

"We understand that schools are having requirements and people need to get their kids back to school and work, but we also want you to know that you don't need to panic if your child has been exposed or has symptoms," said Starnes.

She said in most cases, if a family member is sick with COVID-19 and other family members are not feeling well, it's safe to assume everyone in the home has it.  

Starnes said in most cases it's safe for parents and childcare providers to treat a child's symptoms at home. Health care professionals said the same is true for adults.

The reason why ER and urgent care workers are asking people not to show up just for COVID-19 tests is that it's adding to their patient load and slowing down response time for those who are very ill.

Tarrant County Public Health said it has noticed an increased number of people wanting a test and plans to add more options.

Some school districts, like the Dallas ISD, are supplying their own rapid COVID-19 tests on campuses for their students, teachers, and staff.

"It's just another layer, a mitigating strategy to help control the viral spread," said Jennifer Finley, director of health services for the school district.

She said they, too, have noticed an increased demand for COVID-19 tests.

Doctors suggest people in search of a test either go to their primary care physician, a pharmacy, use a drive-thru testing site, or buy an at-home testing kit.

Listed below are links to where people can find COVID-19 testing sites:

Contact Us