ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Annapolis and Anne Arundel County fire departments are asking for the community’s help in alleviating the strain its first responders are facing as a result of the strain COVID-19 and its variants are causing.
The positivity rate in the county has reached 30 percent, resulting in an intensive care unit occupancy rate of nearly 92 percent, according to county Health Department data the fire departments cited in a statement.
The departments are asking people to avoid going to emergency departments for minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, low-grade fevers and seek care from primary care physicians or urgent care centers, and also to not obtain COVID-19 tests from emergency rooms. Residents are asked to go find an approved COVID-19 testing site from the state or use a home testing kit.
Residents are asked to limit 911 calls to possible life-threatening conditions, including:
- Chest pains or persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Blueish lips or face
- Severe pain that is new and doesn’t go away
- Traumatic injury
- Unconscious or altered mental status
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Allergic reaction with swelling and/or respiratory difficulty
- Diabetic emergencies
- Life-threatening mental health issues (e.g., suicidal)
- Childbirth (active labor or complications)
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians will evaluate mild symptoms that are likely due to a viral illness, according to the statement. If the case is mild, they may advise home care or a visit with a physician is more appropriate than a trip to the emergency room.
COVID-19 is threatening to overwhelm health care providers and the health care system overall, according to the statement. Increased numbers of hospitalizations have led to longer patient wait times and a shortage of available beds. Some patients with nonlife-threatening emergencies may wait for extended periods, sometimes exceeding 24 hours. Calling 911 for an ambulance does not guarantee faster care, the departments said, adding some patients may be taking to other regions, which takes paramedics out of the county for extended times and makes them unavailable for urgent calls like heart attacks and accidents.