Why your COVID-19 test before Thanksgiving may not matter

BOSTON — With Thanksgiving coming up next week, many families have made up their minds to not be together.

“We know about the rising numbers,” said Westwood nurse Brittany Puccia. “We are just trying to be responsible. We did the same thing for Easter we’re doing the same thing for Thanksgiving.”

Some families say they will still gather, but will try to keep it limited.

Dedham residents Punam Reena & Heena Kumar said they’re telling family members to stay home if they aren’t feeling well and will FaceTime them instead.

For those gathering, there are ways to do so that can mitigate risks.

“It’s going to be separate,” said Kumar. “I’m trying to do little boxes so people take the box so no one has to keep touching the food. We want more Thanksgivings, not just one Thanksgiving... if we are safe now we will have more later.”

“We would not recommend traveling at this point, but if you are going to travel, make sure you have a face covering that you clean your hands and do so as much as possible. Maybe have dinner outside if it’s possible,” said Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston Medical Center. “If you’re indoors, make sure that it’s in an area in a place that’s well-ventilated. Open the window.”

Another question is testing. When should you get tested? Should you get tested before you go, or when you get there? Should you get tested multiple times?

As we get closer to the holidays, we are seeing more people getting tested. Boston 25 called AFC Urgent Care facilities in the area and found it difficult to get anybody on the phone, so eventually, our crews showed up to the Dedham location where staff said they were operating by appointment only.

We are now within 14 days of Thanksgiving, so it’s probably too late to show up to your family’s home and then quarantine. For people testing beforehand, doctors say a test can only prove so much.

“The problem with testing is that it gives a little bit of a false sense of security,” said Dr. Assoumou. “People are like, ‘Oh I tested negative. So I’m fine so I can go ahead and see grandma.'"

“Test first to make sure you’re negative, but the test is limited,” said Puccia. “The next day you could be positive, so unless you’re getting the test exactly the day before and you’re not seeing anyone until then, that’s really the only time it’s effective.”

Doctors also warn that, because of the increase in cases, they do need more tests and it seems there are a lot of people testing right now just because of the holidays. Doctors fear the number of cases will grow even more after Thanksgiving because of what we saw in Canada where they had a large increase in cases after their October Thanksgiving celebrations. They fear that at the same time cases start to increasemore people will be testing to see their families for Christmas.

To find a COVID-19 testing site in your area visit Mass.gov. Boston residents can find a site here. Most cities and towns list updated testing sites on their websites and social media pages.

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