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As ER's struggle with high patient loads, here's where you should get a COVID test

Places like pharmacies, doctor's offices, and local health departments would likely save you time when it comes to getting a test

ST. LOUIS — With COVID cases still high in the St. Louis area, emergency room leaders say they're struggling to keep up with patient loads. One way you can help: check out other resources if you need a simple COVID swab.

List: Coronavirus testing location in the St. Louis area

Pandemic task force hospitals are still seeing about 70 daily COVID admissions. But there are hundreds -- if not thousands more -- who come through and are released or admitted for other reasons.

The big crowds are especially concerning as they prepare for flu season after the illness was virtually nonexistent last fall and winter.

"When you combining more interactions, more people getting together, and less immunity built up over the last year, we do have a concern that it could be a very bad flu season," Steve Lawrence, MD, Washington University infectious disease specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, said.

Places like pharmacies, doctor's offices, and local health departments would likely save you time.

Hospital systems -- like BJC -- have compiled lists of testing locations as well as explainers on the differences in options like urgent care, convenient care, and telehealth options.

Your best protection against serious COVID complications is still a vaccine.

"The vaccine has been a game-changer in terms of who is becoming seriously ill," Lawrence said. "All of our evidence -- even now many months after the vaccine -- has been wildly available are continuing to show that they provide outstanding protection versus a serious illness."

About 40% of people in the St. Louis metropolitan area are fully vaccinated against coronavirus. But the unvaccinated make up 82% of patients hospitalized with COVID in task force hospitals.

Click here for a list of vaccine clinics

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