WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Emergency rooms at local hospitals have been busier than usual. It’s causing longer wait times for both patients and ambulance crews.

We spoke to health experts today who are asking people who aren’t experiencing emergencies to consider receiving treatment at other health care facilities.

“We’re seeing a large increase in patients in the emergency rooms across the Mahoning Valley,” said Dr. James Kravec, Mercy Health’s chief clinical officer.

On top of the usual emergencies.

Hospitals are also dealing with more people going to the ER and being hospitalized for COVID-19.

“Hospitalizations are probably up about close to 20 percent of what they were last December. So that just demonstrates the delta variant is making people sicker where they’re needing medical assistance,” said Frank Migliozzi, Trumbull County’s health commissioner.

In addition to more patients heading to the ER, health experts say the COVID-19 patients who are admitted are requiring longer stays, which have contributed to the longer than normal wait times for both patients and EMS crews.

“A lot of the times, our guys are getting there and they’re told to wait out in the ambulance with the patient. They’re actually starting the admission process in the back of our ambulance and they’re waiting there sometimes one, two or three hours,” said Cortland Fire Chief David Rea.

These are reasons why health experts are asking people who aren’t experiencing an emergency to call their primary care physician, consider telehealth or visit an Urgent Care.

Also, instead of going to the hospital for a COVID-19 test, use an outpatient option to do so.

“We want to keep the emergency room for emergencies. They’re definitely safe, that’s what they’re there for. What we don’t want to do is overwhelm them with people that don’t need to be there,” said Dr. James Shina, an internal medicine physician with Steward Medical Group.