COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Emergency departments across the peach state are filled or filling up quickly as the delta variant increases COVID-19 cases. Now, hospitals and medical officials are urging you to only go to the emergency room if it’s absolutely necessary.

“We’re getting a lot of stories from patients that the emergency departments are full, ya know and the hospitals are getting full,” said Piedmont Columbus Regionals Doctor of Family Medicine Steve Hanrahan. “That’s a scary thing, and now more than ever it’s not just falling on us the healthcare providers to help you figuring out where you need to go, but it is now putting things more on the hands of the patients as well in terms of figuring out what do, ya know where should I go for this, what kind of treatment do I need.”

If you’re experiencing cold like symptoms, minor injuries or other non-life threatening symptoms, doctors and medical experts are asking you to do a few things and none of them are go immediately to the ED.

Instead Dr. Hanrahan and others are asking you self-evaluate. How bad are your symptoms? Can this wait until tomorrow? Is this life threatening?

“I would emphasize that if you feel this is something that could be handled at an urgent care or really if you feel this isn’t so severe I could see my doctor the next day, I would strongly advise considering doing those things before immediately going to the emergency department,” said Dr. Hanrahan.

And if you do need medical attention but not immediate attention or life-saving care healthcare officials are asking you to first go to an urgent care facility or your primary care doctor.

“At this point and time it’s critical that the emergency department is functioning for exactly what it needs to be doing, seeing emergencies,” said Dr. Hanrahan. “So if you have symptoms that you think might be something like a sinus infection or a urinary tract infection, the list goes on, those would be worth trying to see urgent care or your primary care doctor.”

In addition to not going to the hospital for colds or other minor illnesses, Piedmont Columbus Regional is asking you to not go to the hospital to get tested for COVID-19. There are free testing sites hosted by the Georgia Department of Health all across the state.

A list of these sites can be found on DPH’s website or at