Negative test results don’t mean you’re clear for Thanksgiving with family

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INDIANAPOLIS — In preparation for the holidays, many people are trying to get a COVID test. For some the thought is ‘if we’re all negative it’s fine to travel and gather for the holidays,’ despite the warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If we can hold off on large gatherings this week, this will go a long way to helping us slow the spread,” said IU Health’s Nursing Director of Infection Prevention, Kristen Kelley.

Kelley has been on the frontlines since the beginning of the pandemic. She’s also a witness to how the second wave is worse than the first. Kelley is also just like everyone else who would like to see friends and family this holiday season.

“We are at a very critical point. The next two to four months are going to be challenging for us as we go into a winter season with very, very high COVID cases and deaths,” said Kelley.

Still, some are ignoring the advice to stay home — thinking they’re safe just because they got a negative result. However, Kelley explains that doesn’t mean you’re COVID-free.

“So, if I was exposed yesterday and I got tested tomorrow on Day 3 and it’s negative, it doesn’t mean I’m totally out of the clear. It just means that at that point in time the virus was not detected,” said Kelley.

It could be too soon for you to show positive results after being exposed due to the extended incubation period.

“It’s a 14-day incubation period. That means anytime in those 14 days, you could develop signs and symptoms,” said Thomas Duszynski, Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Kelley says she and others are concerned as they see many hit the roads and the friendly skies for Turkey Day.

“This is not fake news, this is real numbers, real lives affected, and you can see that in the hospital where I work and where I walk daily,” said Kelley.

With Thanksgiving being days away, you may be required to wait until next week for an appointment at a testing site. Kelley says the only light at the end of the tunnel are the vaccines, but Hoosiers also have to cooperate.

The CDC is continuing to urge you to wear a mask, it can protect those around you and in your household. They also suggest quarantining for 14 days after being exposed to someone who has tested positive.

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