Triad-based health care leaders are urging people to avoid going to area emergency departments unless they are in life-threatening situations. Officials with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health, and Novant Health issued a joint statement in the hopes of reducing delays.

Wait times for non-life threatening issues at the ER are now two to three times what they were before the pandemic. Some people are coming to get COVID tests that are readily available in non-emergency settings across the region.

Chest pain, trouble moving an arm or leg, difficulties with speech and traumatic injuries are all still good reasons to come to the emergency department, officials say.

But things like skin infections, cold and flu symptoms, muscle or joint pain, or injuries that could require an X-ray can be treated at a doctor's office or urgent care clinic.

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