HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville Hospital says the number of people needing to be hospitalized for COVID-19 has more than doubled in the last three weeks.

“To go from 100 to 258 in a two week period is concerning to us,” said Huntsville Hospital President Tracy Doughty. He said the 158 person hospitalization increase happened between January 3rd and January 20th.

The Huntsville Hospital system has been balancing the increase in hospitalizations with a shortage of staffing. Doughty said employees have been picking up extra shifts and switching their work schedules around to be able to care for patients. Dr. Dan Neuberger, Assistant Medical Director of the Huntsville Emergency Department, said staff is also having to take “increased patient loads.”

The combination of an overrun department led to Huntsville Hospital to issue a statement on Wednesday night, asking people not to visit the hospital system’s emergency rooms for a COVID-19 test. They reminded people to only go to the ER for true medical emergencies.

Dr. Neuberger said, “even five to 10 patients presenting in a day for that (COVID-19 tests) has put undue stress on a department that’s already running at or above capacity.” Neuberger added if you are experiencing shortness of breath or have a low oxygen reading, that’s when you should visit the emergency room.

Both Doughty and Neuberger encouraged people who need a COVID-19 test to to so by either an at-home testing kit, visiting their primary care provider, or visiting a testing site.

You can find a testing site near you by clicking here.