How COVID testing can be utilized ahead of Thanksgiving, and why results are not foolproof

How COVID testing can be utilized ahead of Thanksgiving, and why results are not foolproof
Thomas Jefferson Health District conducting tests for COVID-19 in the White Hall area of Albemarle Co. (Source: WVIR)

PALMYRA, Va. (WVIR) - Coronavirus testing is up in the area at the same time the virus surges across the country. As you and your family look to stay safe and healthy through Thanksgiving, we’re taking a look at how you should utilize testing and follow the science.

We’re previously heard from health experts who have said traveling can be dangerous, especially on a plane or with a large group. But if you are traveling, there are some steps you should take.

“The best thing about testing would be to be tested and then have a proven negative test and then quarantine for 14 days,” said Jessica Coughlin, the emergency coordinator with the Thomas Jefferson Health District.

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, many still have misconceptions about testing.

We asked Coughlin if a person were to get tested on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and then quarantine at home, is that foolproof.

“It’s not foolproof because you may have the virus in your system, it just has not gotten to a level that can be detected on a test,” she said.

So what can you do now? It starts with what the guidance has been for months.

“Washing your hands, staying six feet away, if you go out in public, wear your mask,” Coughlin said. “There’s not a whole lot of change in the guidance just because it’s thanksgiving.”

Just as important is monitoring potential symptoms, and not traveling if you have any.

“Is it a cold? Is it flu? Is it COVID? Is it allergies? Just be realistic that it could be any of those things, but why expose more people than needed,” Coughlin said.

As for testing capacity, TJHD shared that all the pre-registration slots for testing events this week are filled. Coughlin said each event will have an additional 50 first-come, first-serve tests, and she believes other providers like UVA Health and area urgent care facilities will be able to avoid any problems with availability.

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