(WKBN) – At first, doctors urged patients to avoid going to local emergency departments for minor problems or to just get tested for COVID-19. They wanted to avoid overcrowding. But now, as we’ve seen, even Urgent Care centers and walk-in clinics are getting really busy too.

“The walk-in care… Yesterday, the Mercy walk-in care had its busiest day ever yesterday,” said Dr. James Kravec, Mercy Health.

While the demand for testing is causing long lines at distribution points and clinics, it’s also putting a strain on available supplies. At least one local physician wonders if all this testing is necessary.

“You know, depending on vaccination status and what your symptoms actually are, we’re recommending against, you know, excessive testing just because, you know, if you don’t have any symptoms, what’s gonna change for you?” wondered Dr. James Shina, Steward Health.

Now, both doctors are urging those with significant symptoms or real emergencies to see their own physicians or go to the emergency room, but one possible alternative to long lines and wait times is telehealth.

“It’s convenient. The patients can be at home, you can look at them face to face and they can tell you their symptoms and explain things in greater detail than a quick… than a voicemail or something like that,” Dr. Shina said.

Another idea is to take steps now for illnesses down the road.

“I would recommend if someone can get some at-home tests at pharmacies or online and have them available if needed,” Dr. Kravec said.

For now, no one’s predicting how long this current spike in both cases and patients will last.

“I’m hopeful though, as the severity lessens, we’ll have less people in the hospital. We’re not seeing that yet,” Dr. Kravec said.