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Harris Health System Asks Public Seeking COVID Tests to Avoid Emergency Rooms

HOUSTON (Dec. 28, 2021) — Harris Health System is asking the public seeking COVID testing due to exposure or mild symptoms to avoid emergency rooms in the greater Houston community and instead seek testing at a pharmacy, doctor’s office or dedicated testing site to assure vital resources for critical care emergencies remain accessible. Additionally, those with other mild health conditions should seek care at a primary care location or via virtual care platforms instead of presenting in the local emergency rooms.

“Our healthcare systems in this region are being strained due to healthcare personnel shortages,” says Esmaeil Porsa, MD, president and CEO, Harris Health System. “Unfortunately, many staff and physicians have become infected or are quarantined for testing due to COVID-like symptoms.”

In light of the recent surge, Porsa recommends “to continue social distancing, minimize holiday gatherings to small groups of vaccinated individuals, wear a face mask, and practice frequent handwashing. Doing these things consistently minimizes the possibility of transmission and helps slow the spread of infections.”

Who should get tested and when?

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with a person with COVID-19 should be tested 5–7 days after their last exposure.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested immediately when they learn they have been exposed. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after their last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.

Free testing sites can be found through:

Harris County Public Health
To get tested, visit, or call 832-927-7575.

City of Houston
For testing sites within the City of Houston, visit

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency or symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, feeling faint, etc. please call 911.