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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If you need to be tested for COVID-19, officials stress that you should not visit an emergency room.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is teaming up with the Oklahoma Hospital Association to remind residents that there are testing locations across central Oklahoma.

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in patients seeking tests at busy hospital emergency rooms.

“While emergency rooms remain ready and able to treat urgent medical conditions, they are not the place to go to get tested for COVID,” said Patti Davis, OHA president. “We urge the public to use one of the numerous locations around Oklahoma County. This will enable healthcare providers in emergency rooms to focus on treating urgent medical needs and potentially saving lives.”

Davis said that as COVID-19 cases rise, staffing will continue to be an issue.

Instead of going to the hospital for testing, residents can find more than two dozen testing locations on the Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s testing website.

“We are grateful that our partners in Oklahoma County have stepped up to offer so many testing options,” said Dr. Patrick McGough, OCCHD CEO. “Testing is vital to tracking the virus and keeping up with new variants as they emerge.”

McGough stressed that people should only seek testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms or were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. People can use the CDC’s Self-Checker if they are unsure about needing a test. 

Testing can show the virus’ transmissibility in the county. As of Jan. 1, 27% of tests were positive for COVID-19.

The countywide wastewater surveillance program is also showing high rates of COVID-19.