As Phoenix hospitals fill up amid new COVID surge, doctor says people with mild cases can be treated at home

Full hospitals, overwhelmed emergency rooms, and urgent care clinics turning away customers ae all part of the latest COVID-19 surge across the country.

The issue is that people are coming in with serious symptoms and having a hard time being seen because the ER is so overcrowded. According to some health experts, some of the people in the ER could easily be treated at home.

"Right now, we're seeing peak hospital occupancy similar to what we've seen during our largest peak. and some would say there's less beds available now," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio.

Dr. Lovecchio says currently, more than half of the people coming into the ER are there for COVID-like symptoms, and wait times are several hours long.

"We know omicron is very contagious. We believe that is gives you more mild symptoms, but a smaller percent of a large number is still a very large number of people coming to the hospital," said Dr. Frank Lovecchio.

In many cases, Dr. Lovecchio says, these more mild COVID cases can easily be treated at home, and unless a person is experiencing intense respiratory symptoms, it really is best to avoid the hospital.

"Right now, not the best place to be, the hospital," said Dr. Lovecchio. "You're gonna wait a long time. Surgery, you're gonna wait a long time. So what I try to tell people is get your vaccinations, booster, try to avoid people who have the omicron variant."

Dr. Lovecchio explains that for people who have mild COVID-19 symptoms, the best thing for them to do is to speak with their primary care physician, who can direct them.

"If you have respiratory symptoms or co-morbidity, please come to the hospital. If you have almost no symptoms, if you have a runny nose and a cough and are breathing relatively well, we're probably not going to do much for you in the hospital," said Dr. Lovecchio.

Dr. Lovecchio says this peak of hospitalizations should be over in a couple of months.

More COVID-19 in Arizona news

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

For the latest local news, download the FOX 10 News app

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers