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Hospitals Urge Public to Manage Surge by Knowing When to Use ED


As COVID-19 variants continue to push hospitals to capacity, local health care leaders are asking for the public’s help to manage the surge of patients filling emergency departments.

Most importantly, the public is asked to remember that Memorial Health emergency departments are not testing sites for people who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 or who need testing to meet return-to-work or return-to-school status requirements.

“However, if you experience a health emergency or serious COVID-19 symptoms, like severe shortness of breath, go to your local emergency department immediately,” said Dr. Rajesh Govindaiah, senior vice president and chief physician executive of Memorial Health.

Memorial Health is a Springfield-based health care organization with hospitals and care facilities in Springfield, Decatur, Jacksonville, Lincoln and Taylorville.

Govindaiah offered advice to people experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, such as a head cold:

“Act as if you have a COVID-19 infection,” he said. “Wear a medical-grade mask and isolate from family and friends for at least five days. Use local pharmacies, county health departments, COVID-19 pop-up testing sites or the University of Illinois-Springfield Shield program for testing.”

Many local pharmacies also offer both in-person and at-home testing options.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not showing symptoms or have minor symptoms, take infection prevention precautions. Wait three to five days from your date of exposure to test for accurate results. It is possible to test too early and receive a false negative, Govindaiah said.

For information on COVID-19 testing, visit

Patients seeking information about monoclonal antibody therapy (also called monoclonal antibody infusion treatment) – a treatment that helps prevent severe symptoms from developing in high-risk patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 – should first check with their primary care physician to learn if they qualify for the treatment.