MORGANTOWN—As COVID-19 cases across the state and country continue to rise, WVU Medicine Emergency Medicine encourages those seeking treatment to uti- lize their local urgent care centers when possible. “When it comes to medical emergencies, we do not want people to delay getting the care that they need. In some cases, like heart attack or stroke, delaying care can lead to catastrophic consequences,” Christopher Goode, M.D., chair of WVU Medicine Emergency Medicine, said. “What we’re encouraging people to do is to go to an urgent care center when their emergency is best suited for that level of care.” Life-threatening emergencies and those that pose a risk of disability, such as symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, injuries sustained in a vehicle crash, and lacerations that cause substantial bleeding, should be treated in an emergency department. Minor, unexpected injuries and illnesses that do not fall into those categories, including ear infections, strep throat, simple abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, minor lacerations, sprains, and simple fractures, can be treated at an urgent care center. The wait times are often shorter, and the cost is lower than going to the emergency department. There are WVU Medicine Urgent Care locations in Charles Town, Fairmont, Inwood, Morgantown, Parkersburg, and Spring Mills in West Virginia; Grantsville and McHenry in Maryland; and Marietta, Ohio. Those who suspect they may have COVID-19, including those who develop a fever, cough, or other symptoms and have been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 as well as those who have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, should first call their healthcare provider before seeking treatment. Anyone experiencing emergency warning signs, including but not limited to trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone, should get help immediately. Either call 911 or call the closest emergency department, and let the operator know that care is being sought for someone who has or may have COVID-19. Those who are unsure whether or not they should be seen should call their local health departments for guidance. Assistance can also be found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Regardless of where you seek care – whether it’s at one of our urgent care centers or at our emergency departments – it’s important to remember that it is safe to receive care during the pandemic,” Dr. Goode said. “We are taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff.” The best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to receive the vaccine. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now FDA-approved for people ages 16 and older. The vaccine is still designated for use under FDA emergency use authorization for children ages 12 to 15. Many people have questions about safety, possible side effects, and effectiveness. WVU Medicine officials answer frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. To hear Dr. Goode discuss why he and his family received the COVID vaccine, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oizrph_Qrxg. To hear him discuss emergency medical care during the pandemic, visit https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=XYpT_jmtMhg. For more information on COVID-19, visit WVUMedicine.org/COVID. For more in- formation on WVU Medicine Urgent Care, including locations and hours, visit WVU Medicine.org/UrgentCare.