People looking for COVID-19 tests should avoid ERs, Harris Health System says

A man is tested for COVID-19, at a walk-up testing site run by Nomi Health, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in downtown Miami. Officials in Miami-Dade County have opened two new coronavirus testing sites and extended hours at Zoo Miami in response to an increased demand. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Harris Health System is asking people who are seeking COVID-19 testing due to exposure or mild symptoms to avoid emergency rooms in the Houston area and instead seek testing at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or testing site.

Harris Health System said people who are experiencing mild health conditions should seek care at a primary care location or via virtual care platforms instead of going to local emergency rooms.

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“Our health care systems in this region are being strained due to health care personnel shortages,” said Esmaeil Porsa, president and CEO of Harris Health System. “Unfortunately, many staff and physicians have become infected or are quarantined for testing due to COVID-like symptoms.”

In light of the recent surge, Porsa recommended “to continue social distancing, minimize holiday gatherings to small groups of vaccinated individuals, wear a face mask, and practice frequent handwashing. Doing these things consistently minimizes the possibility of transmission and helps slow the spread of infections.”

Who should get tested and when?

• People who have symptoms of COVID-19.

• Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with a person with COVID-19 should be tested five to seven days after their last exposure.

• People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested immediately when they learn they have been exposed. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again five to seven days after their last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.

Free testing sites can be found through:

Harris County Public Health

To get tested, visit, or call 832-927-7575.

City of Houston

For testing sites within the City of Houston, visit

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency or symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, feeling faint, etc. please call 911.

For more information about Harris Health, visit

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