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If you believe you have coronavirus, when should you visit the emergency room? We asked an infectious disease specialist

Doctor's offices are taking different approaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Some doctor's offices are taking different approaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

Some are taking temperatures in the waiting room, others treating patients from the car.

At Adventist Health, the hospital says that in the days following the virus outbreak they saw an uptick in emergency room visits.

"We have seen an increase of patients come into the emergency department out of concern for their viral infections and more calls. Whether it's through, for instance, the health department. As a whole we have been having more work," said Dr. Christopher Cirino, an infectious disease specialist for Adventist Health.

A statement provided to KGW says, "We have screening processes in place for all patients entering our facilities and follow all recommendations from the OHA for testing and treating suspected COVID-19 patients." It goes on to say, "If individuals suspect they are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus they should contact their healthcare provider."

Nurses working in the emergency rooms of other hospitals have told KGW that they too are seeing an increase in patients visit the ER. They say their patients are telling them that primary care doctors are diverting them away from the office and instead referring them to the ER.

"I think diverting, it may not address the fear which is leading them to seek care. So I think questions and answers and certainly the strong messaging of if you're otherwise doing okay and you're otherwise managing yourself and you're having a mild to moderate cold. That can be managed at home," Cirino said.

So when is a good time to visit the emergency room? Cirino says check your symptoms, "If you are having milder symptoms that you probably don't need to make a phone call, you probably don't need to come into the hospital to get checked.

"We're really advising people who have more severe symptoms to do exactly what they would normally do, to come into the emergency department if they're having increased breathlessness or if they are feeling short of breath because we do want to make sure people get that attention."

In Oregon, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, according to officials. At KGW, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: kgw.com/FactsNotFear

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