HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Health professionals said they are seeing more people making the mistake of going to the hospital as the first place to go if they suspect of having COVID-19.

It is something doctors and nurses said could put them at unnecessary risk.

“So, a lot of this misconception is if they have COVID they should come straight to the ER. Not everyone gets admitted for COVID,” said Pablo Laredo, a registered nurse at South Texas Health Systems in McAllen.

Dr. John Austin at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen said there are multiple reasons why going to the hospital should be your last resort.

“Number one it’s not medically necessary, two it over utilizes the facilities and keeps us from doing the things we need to do, and three it could be non-infected people at-risk by exposing them to people who are infected,” said Austin.

Another common misconception following the surge in new COVID cases is that hospitals are public testing sites when they are not, according to Laredo.

“Unfortunately, we are not a testing site, we do test if a patient needs to be admitted but we do not test everyone that comes in and request it,” said Laredo.

However, Austin said there are some ways to tell if you should come to the ER if you are an adult that has tested positive for COVID. They include:

  • High fever over 101 degrees  
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Under 90% in oxygen levels 
  • Struggling to speak or express yourself  
  • High pulse rate 

Laredo added another way to determine if you should seek urgent care is by consulting with a medical professional via telemedicine.

“They can advise a patient to go to the ER based on their assessment via telemedicine,” said Laredo.

Though COVID-19 cases are rising, Austin said the number of ICU and intubation patients are lower than previous surges.

“To be intubated, that’s where they use a tube that breathes for you, that percentage is also down compared to delta and the original surge,” said Austin.