In Washington D.C., the demand for Covid-19 tests is outpacing the supply. Because of the lack of supplies, people are filling up emergency rooms to try and obtain a test.
Hospitals across the D.C. areas are pleading with people to stop coming to the emergency room for a test. The University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical noted there was up to an eight-hour wait time for people who didn’t even need hospital treatment.
Hospitals in Northern Virginia are also desperately pleading for people to stay home with mild or asymptomatic cases.
The Department of Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association to issue a joint statement on Thursday stating:
“A hospital emergency department is not the appropriate venue for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms to seek medical care. Most individuals who contract COVID-19 do not need to visit the hospital’s emergency department and can effectively recover from their illness at home, or by seeking primary care treatment and/or speaking with their primary care provider[.]”
The major problem with people coming to the hospital for mild symptoms is that it impacts the hospital’s ability to care for truly sick patients. The statement calls for anyone who can to get vaccinated to prevent more serious infections.
One other reason people are so desperate for tests is the government requirement to show proof of a negative test to return to work on January 3. Many of the local testing sites have been overwhelmed and run out of tests. Those hoping to return to work after the New Year believe the hospital is their best hope to get tested.
Exacerbating this problem is the D.C. requirement that all school students and staff returning from winter break must show proof of a negative test before returning to classes. The students have until January 5 to upload their negative tests results to a government website.
One D.C. official stated that they are begging the Biden administration for help and testing support. The official said, “There is an acute need for testing in D.C.”
The administration responded by opening a federal testing site. This site will be able to test around 500 people per day. Unfortunately, this may not do much to meet the city’s existing demands.