SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Health care officials in Northwest Louisiana are urging the public to help preserve capacity in local emergency rooms amid a sixth surge of COVID-19.

Statewide, there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the last month and an even more significant increase over the last ten days. Louisiana has over 3,000 new COVID cases, and the Shreveport-Bossier area makes up 20% of that number.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, that number could be much higher since people are using more home tests, which are often not reported. Many others are not testing at all.

Leaders at local hospitals like CHRISTUS Highland are reminding the public that emergency rooms are for true emergencies.

“If you are having stroke-like symptoms or chest pain or things that will require an emergency department visit we are here and ready to take care of you,” Dr. Steen Trawick, CHRISTUS CEO and CMO said. “We just want to make sure that we’re utilizing those resources as well.”

For non-urgent emergencies, health care officials are encouraging people to call their primary care physician to get a walk-in appointment. People can also use the telemedicine platform ‘CHRISTUS on Demand’ where people can talk to a doctor from home.