A negative test doesn’t give you a free pass to see friends and family during the Thanksgiving holiday. Experts say that people may not test positive for COVID-19 until days after an actual infection, whether they take the standard PCR test or the rapid antigen test. According to a new study, it takes days for enough virus to replicate itself to detectable levels, says Justin Lessler, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. During that time, you could be harboring the virus and transmitting it to others.
According to CNN, the only safe way to ensure you’re not contagious is to strictly quarantine for 14 days. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the infectious disease division at Massachusetts General Hospital, told CNN “if you do that properly, you don’t need a test. That’s probably the cleanest way to go.”
Experts say that if you do get tested, you should also quarantine until the tests results come back. Walensky noted that even people who test negative can be contagious.
“People sort of feel like if you test negative, you’re out of the woods and you’re not,” she told CNN. “Symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear, but the average time is five days,” the expert said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted its guidelines for celebrating Thanksgiving safely during the pandemic. The agency recommends “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.”
One of their suggestions include having a virtual dinner with family and friends. The CDC also recommends sharing traditional Thanksgiving dishes with others and delivering them in a contact-free manner.
Walensky says these small sacrifices this Thanksgiving can help keep everyone safe and healthy.
“At least they’ll be there next year, whereas irresponsible behavior now might mean they won’t be here later,” she said, according to CNN.
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