MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WCBD) – Local health leaders are asking for people who have mild or no COVID-19 symptoms to avoid getting tested for the virus at emergency departments.

It comes as hospitals across the state experience higher numbers of patients needing immediate treatment for COVID-19 related issues.

Tidelands Health, which has a hospital in Murrells Inlet, said it does not provide asymptomatic COVID-19 testing and those without symptoms who need a test can find a convenient, free testing site through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control rather than coming to the emergency department.

“SCDHEC is working to expand the number of testing sites and the capacity at existing sites in response to recent increased demand,” said officials with Tidelands Health.

They said anyone who is experiencing a medical emergency should dial 911 or come to the nearest ER for help.

“Our hospital emergency departments are not designed to be asymptomatic COVID-19 testing sites,” said Ashley Capps, vice president of nursing and operations. “We ask community members for their cooperation by seeking the appropriate level of care from the appropriate venue and only come to the ER when emergency care is needed.”

According to Tidelands Health, people with severe COVID-19 symptoms like significant difficulty breathing, a fever that continues for days and severe weakness are among those who should consider seeking emergency medical care.

Individuals should not visit the emergency department if they have mild symptoms such as a cough, runny nose or body aches or simply want a COVID-19 test.

Individuals 12 and older experiencing non-emergency COVID-19 symptoms can receive a COVID-19 test and appropriate care at Tidelands Health respiratory clinics in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown. Please call 843-527-4442 to schedule an appointment at the respiratory clinic in Georgetown or 843-652-6300 to schedule an appointment at the respiratory clinic in Murrells Inlet. Normal physician office visit fees apply.

Tidelands Health leaders continue to encourage community members to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which provides strong protection from serious illness from COVID-19. Individuals should also receive a booster dose of the vaccine when eligible, as a booster dose dramatically increases protection against the Omicron variant.

“All of us must continue to do what we can to protect ourselves and others from this virus,” Capps said. “Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Wear a face mask in public places. Be smart, and let’s get control of COVID-19.”

People can get the lifesaving vaccine and booster at no cost at three Tidelands Health regional vaccination sites:

  • Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, Harris Medical Pavilion entrance, 606 Black River Road, Georgetown. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tidelands Health Medical Park at The Market Common, 2200 Crow Lane, Myrtle Beach. Every Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • The Compass Professional Center, 10607 Highway 707, Myrtle Beach. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.