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HAP Urges Public to Choose Appropriate Setting for Routine COVID-19 Tests

Pharmacies, testing sites better options for routine tests than crowded hospital emergency departments

January 14, 2022

Harrisburg, PA (January 14, 2022) – The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and Pennsylvania’s hospital community urge Pennsylvanians to choose non-emergency settings for routine COVID-19 tests to help ensure that strained hospital emergency departments are available to treat patients who require acute care.

Appropriate testing options for people who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Regional, public testing sites that have been established by the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Berks, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Delaware, Luzerne, and Mifflin counties
  • Other public testing sites established by local or county governments
  • Pharmacies
  • At-home tests
  • Privately operated testing services and sites

For people experiencing mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms, testing is also available at many urgent care centers and community health centers.

At-home COVID-19 rapid tests are available at some pharmacies and President Joe Biden announced this week that the federal government will launch a website next week for American households to order free at-home tests to be shipped to their homes.

Pennsylvania hospitals are strained—with many at or approaching capacity—due a combination of rising COVID-19 cases, the flu and other seasonal illnesses, a severe health care staffing shortage, and an influx of patients requiring more intensive care due to care being delayed earlier in the pandemic. The number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized with COVID-19 surged to a record high this week, driven by the holiday season and the new Omicron variant.

As of January 9:

  • 31 percent of Pennsylvania hospitals are at 90 percent capacity or higher for staffed inpatient beds and 7 percent were at 100 percent capacity or higher
  • 39 percent of Pennsylvania hospitals are at 90 percent capacity or higher for staffed intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 21 percent are at 100 percent capacity or higher
  • 3 percent of Pennsylvania hospitals have both their ICU and inpatient staffed beds at or above full capacity

By seeking routine COVID-19 tests in more appropriate settings and not hospital emergency departments, Pennsylvanians can help ensure hospitals are available to provide care to those who need it most.