SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The COVID-19 surge continues to impact medical services, but this time officials say they’re being overwhelmed with non-emergent calls.
The San Francisco Fire Department says they’ve seen a significant increase in 911 calls for minor COVID symptoms or simply a test.
Emergency medical service leaders are asking you to only call 911 in a life-threatening emergency.
In the last few days, they’ve seen about a 20 to 25 percent increase in call volume, and with their own staff members out with COVID, there’s a supply and demand issue.
“Please do not go to an emergency room for a test,’ one official said.
Health officials are warning people not to overwhelm the system.
They say they’ve seen a surge in 911 calls and emergency room visits for COVID tests and minor cold, flu, or COVID symptoms.
“We’ve been having over 400 EMS calls a day in the city for the past several days — typically the number hovers around 300 or 330,” SFFD Chief Jeanine Nicholson said.
Chief Executive Officer at Zuberberg General Hospital Doctor Susan Ehrlich says as the only level 1 trauma center in the city, they are always extremely busy, but they’ve never seen anything like this.
“People are coming to emergency departments seeking testing because I think the demand is high and in some circumstances the supply is low,” Ehrlich said.
Both EMS and Zuckerberg General Hospital are seeing about 10 percent of their staff out with COVID or quarantining because of a close encounter.
They also have other people out on vacation, personal days, or for other illnesses.
Nicholson said they are struggling to keep up with the extra need.
“Over one-third of our staff today is on mandatory overtime,” Nicholson said.
Health officials want to remind people that most COVID cases are mild and can be safely treated at home.
They want to relieve some of the strain on the system so they are able to better assist those who are in dire need of medical assistance.
“We’re already in some challenging waters, and we really don’t want it to get any worse.”
Health officials say this is not only a San Francisco problem.
They say emergency medical systems across the state and country are seeing a similar surge in call volume for the same non-emergent requests.