RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association and the Virginia Department of Health issued a joint statement urging Virginians experiencing mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 or other illnesses to avoid trips to hospitals and emergency rooms.

According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, Virginia hospitals have seen an influx of emergency patients with minor cases of COVID-19 and the flu. This influx of visitors has contributed to a massive strain on hospitals and healthcare providers, resulting in care for patients with severe illnesses and conditions to be delayed.

People infected with COVID-19 who are experiencing significant difficulty breathing, intense chest pain, severe weakness or fever lasting several days are still urged to seek emergency treatment, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Virginia recently reached one million cases of COVID-19 and has had 51,564 new cases since Christmas Eve. Also, daily hospitalizations have increased from 922 to 2,101 over the course of December.

VDH recommends getting vaccinated as the best way to protect against severe illness from COVID-19. While the amount of cases is higher, hospitalization rates in Virginia are still much lower than they were this time last year, and data continues to show that the majority of Virginias hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.