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COVID: Hospital ERs Overwhelmed By Omicron Ask Public Not To Come In For Testing

HAYWARD (KPIX) -- As emergency departments are being flooded with Omicron patients, hospitals in the Bay Area are making a plea to the public not to come in for COVID-19 testing.

Providence hospitals, which oversees the Queen of the Valley Medical Center sent out an advisory asking people to utilize emergency departments appropriately. They're not the only ones to remind the public that ER's are not COVID testing or vaccinations sites.

Testing for COVID has been a challenge in the Bay Area as long lines have formed at testing sites. Chopper 5 captured cars parked along the roadway in Hayward, some waiting more than 5 hours to get a test.

In San Francisco, people stood in long lines but some were eventually turned away due to staffing issues and a technical glitch experienced by Color, the city's COVID testing partner. Plus, people are still having a hard time finding a rapid antigen tests.

Tersilla Gregory, a Napa resident says, "I used a home test that a friend had but I can't find one in Napa, they're impossible to find."

Gregory was lucky enough to to find this testing site in Napa and didn't have to wait too long. But for others, the lack of available testing has forced them to find other options.

Dr. Maria Raven, UCSF's Chief of Emergency Medicine says, "A lot of people coming in that can't get their hands on a rapid test. So they come into us after and exposure because they have no other way to get tested. They're very concerned and they want to know, can they return to work, can they be around a loved one, or they want to confirm a prior test."

Many hospitals say those that are coming in are not experiencing symptoms. At a time when hospitals are facing staffing shortages due to the Omicron surge, those patients are taking away resources from those who need it most.

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