Hospitals ask patients with mild symptoms to avoid ER as respiratory illnesses surge

Binghui Huang
Indianapolis Star
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COVID-19, flu and RSV cases are filling up hospital ERs in Marion County.

The Marion County Public Health Department is asking people with mild symptoms to avoid emergency rooms as a surge in respiratory viruses crowds local hospitals.

The high number of COVID-19, flu and RSV patients is forcing hospitals to prioritize care for those who are seriously ill, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, high fever or difficulty breathing. Those with milder symptoms like cough, low fever and sore throat should seek care at their doctor's office, urgent care or pharmacy-based clinics, health department officials say.

More:The urgent care boom: a lifeline for Indiana as doctor shortage rages

This season so far 45 people have died of flu in Indiana, 13 in the current week, according to the Indiana Department of Health. Flu activity is currently high, although not as high as last year at this time.The average daily COVID-19 death count in the state ranges from 5 to 10, according to the department.Choosing the right place for care will reduce emergency room wait times and ensure patients with life threatening symptoms are treated in a timely fashion, according to the Marion County Public Health Department.

Those with milder symptoms can also opt for a telehealth visit.

The department is also encouraging people to wash hands before eating and after coughing or sneezing, stay at home with any symptoms, disinfect commonly use surfaces like doorknobs and faucets and get vaccinated.

Last month, hospitals in the county set temporary restrictions on visitors and ask family and friends to check with the facility on visiting rules.

Binghui Huang can be reached at 317-385-1595 and

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