Mass. COVID-19 testing sites swamped days before Thanksgiving

Mass. COVID-19 testing sites swamped days before Thanksgiving

BOSTON — There’s a mad dash to get a COVID-19 test now just days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Well I want to see my mom for Thanksgiving and she’s 88, so I have to be careful,” said Betsy Hargreaves, who tried to get a COVID-19 test Saturday.

Hargreaves is like many others trying to get a COVID test before Thanksgiving. She was turned away at a testing site in Needham Saturday because they quickly maxed out their testing capacity for the day.

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“So I called and they said if I came at 8 tomorrow when they open, there will probably be over 100 people in line, so to come at 6 a.m.,” Hargreaves said.

“A test done now doesn’t tell you anything about how likely you are to have the infection Thursday,” said Dr. Paul Sax, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That’s the real question. What I would suggest is that people try to get tested as close to the event as possible.”

Dr. Sax said getting a COVID test now may not be the best idea since it’ll still be possible to get the virus over the next few days before Thanksgiving. Health experts also recommend spending the holiday only with people you live with.

“We realize we can’t have everyone absolutely follow the safest possible rules, it’s impossible,” Dr. Sax said. “And so therefore, we want to do everything we can to mitigate the risk and one of those things is to get tested.”

The problem now is finding a place to get a COVID-19 test in Massachusetts. Several clinics in the area are already booked up for the next week and others that accept walk-ins have had extremely long lines.

That’s why Dr. Sax said the U.S. should start making rapid antigen tests more available to allow people to test themselves at home.

“A person who has a negative rapid antigen test in hand, the day of the event that was taken the day before is better off than a person who got tested a week ahead of time,” Dr. Sax said.

But for now, many will patiently wait in line just for that sense of security on Thanksgiving.

“It’s that time of year,” Hargreaves said. “We’ve missed everyone all year, so you want to make the effort to at least see them a little bit.”

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