San Diegans urged to not go to emergency departments for COVID-19 testing

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COUNTY health officials are urging San Diegans not to go to local emergency departments for COVID-19 testing.

Local hospitals are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, as well as staff shortages due to the coronavirus and are preserving their resources for patients who are seriously ill.

The County recommends that people worried about COVID-19 infection and others seeking COVID-19 testing only go to a hospital to be tested if they have severe symptoms.

“Do not go to an emergency department just to get tested, and only go when you have symptoms that need emergency care,” said Cameron Kaiser, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “If you’re experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms, have mild illness or have not been exposed to someone who tested positive, go to one of the many testing locations available in the region.”

The region’s healthcare providers offer testing to members who meet each systems’ criteria. Many neighborhood pharmacies offer same-day testing as do other locations on this list. The county, which has about 10 percent of the region’s testing capacity, has a network of no-cost testing public sites that are both walk-up and can take appointments.

Together, all testing sites have the capacity to perform about 45,000 tests daily. Rapid antigen tests, which are available at many local pharmacies, are a good option if a testing site is unavailable. Those who test positive on a rapid should follow the healthcare guidance and generally do not need a confirmatory PCR test unless instructed by a doctor.

“Currently, there is a high demand for COVID-19 testing so we’re asking San Diegans to be patient as testing traffic can surge and sites can be very busy,” Kaiser said.

Avoid fake COVID-19 testing sites

The county is also warning San Diegans about potential scams from “pop up” sites that are offering “free” COVID-19 testing.

All legitimate COVID-19 testing sites should be able to show you their medical credentials upon request. They should also be able to tell you what laboratory test is being used, where the test is being run and how the results will be reported.

A testing site could be fake if:

  • They ask for social security numbers or other non-medical information
  • Materials do not have a logo
  • Site is on a sidewalk and not affiliated with a medical provider.

“San Diegans should be wary as some pop-up sites could be personal information scams. If you have doubts, go to a County or community pharmacy COVID-19 testing site,” Kaiser said.

COVID-19 vaccines widely available

Also, the region has plenty of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses, which remain the best long-term protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

There are more than 400 vaccination sites that include pharmacies, medical providers, clinics and County locations; the region has the capacity to meet demand. You can also make an appointment or find a site near you by calling (833) 422-4255 or visiting the MyTurn or coronavirus-sd.com websites.

(Jose Alvarez/County of San Diego Communications Office) n

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