Traveled for Thanksgiving? Mass drive-thru COVID-19 testing event scheduled

Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 at 7:23 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond area health leaders have prepared a mass drive-thru COVID-19 testing event this week in part due to a large number of people who may have gathered or traveled for Thanksgiving.

Despite CDC recommendations for celebrating the holiday, Dr. Danny Avula with Richmond and Henrico Health Districts is expecting a spike in COVID-19 cases over the next week and half.

“If any of the last holiday seasons we’ve lived through are predictive, there is no reason to believe we’re not going to see a spike of disease following this Thanksgiving weekend,” Avula said. “I think that will persist through the winter holidays as well. That’s really concerning because we’re at the highest rates of disease we’ve ever seen during this pandemic.”

No matter where you may have traveled, quarantine is a strong recommendation from area health leaders. However, if you feel you have been exposed, getting tested for COVID-19 should be your next step.

“We generally recommend 5-7 days from the time of last exposure,” Avula said.

If that’s Thanksgiving day for you, that means you should try and tested either Tuesday or Thursday. As a result, the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts devised a plan for a mass drive-thru testing event on Thurs., Dec. 3 for people who traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“From 1 to 4 p.m. at ‘The Diamond’ there will be an opportunity for travelers who are coming back to get tested,” Avula said.

The hope is to test roughly 400 people at this event.

Scheduling an appointment is encouraged by calling (804) 205-3501, but you may show up and register on site for a test as well.

However, even if that test comes back negative you may not be in the clear just yet.

“You may get tested at a point where your body hasn’t fully incubated and you end up testing negative even though the virus could be brewing for several days after that,” Avula said.

“COVID is real,” said Erika Duerksen, who traveled for Thanksgiving. “No matter how you feel, the best thing you can do, even if you think you’re safe, is just take precautions to protect other people.”

That’s what Duerksen said she and her family did for Thanksgiving, despite traveling to be with one another.

“We kept it a very, very small Thanksgiving,” she said. “Just my immediate family, which was two other people.”

While 2020 has been difficult on many families, for Duerksen, being with her family last week was something she said needed to happen after spending this year working as an ICU nurse.

“It was definitely important; it was a bit of a balancing act,” she said. “We talked through the safety of it and since we knew no possible exposures on either side we went ahead with it.”

Duerksen added the family did video chat with 12 other family members who would typically be gathered at the dinner table, but due to the pandemic, decided to stay home.

However, health leaders strongly urge families to get tested for COVID-19 if they were around loved ones from different areas.

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