With many making ready to go dwelling for Thanksgiving, COVID-19 testing websites throughout the nation are reporting lengthy strains and hours-long wait instances. But testing damaging is not a surefire approach to make sure a virus-free Thanksgiving.

Health specialists warn that a damaging take a look at could trigger extra hurt than good when individuals start counting on them as a assure for indicating virus ranges.

“There’s a false sense of security because what the testing is telling you is at that point, is that when you had the test, you were either COVID negative or COVID positive,” Neysa Ernst, a nurse supervisor at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit, instructed Newsweek. “It’s not like I got the flu shot, now I’m not going to have the flu.”

Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious illnesses at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, agreed that coronavirus assessments can mislead individuals into pondering that it’s secure to collect with their households subsequent weekend.

“Like we saw in certain gatherings at the White House and other places, a negative test can give a false sense of security,” he instructed Newsweek. “The only thing that testing tells you is that you weren’t carrying the virus at the time that you were tested.”

“Getting a negative test certainly reduces, but does not eliminate, the chance of someone carrying SARS-CoV-2,” Gulick mentioned.

For those that plan on getting examined on Tuesday or Wednesday earlier than heading dwelling for a shared turkey dinner, ranges of the virus might also not be excessive sufficient to point out up on the take a look at if an publicity to the coronavirus was current.

In reality, COVID-19 assessments can solely assist verify a lack of an infection if the person has been self-isolating for 14 days.

“If you want to be completely safe that you have not acquired the infection and couldn’t transmit it to another person, 14 days have to go by,” Gulick mentioned.


A state well being employee collects a swab pattern from a lady to carry out a COVID-19 take a look at in Mexico City, on November 18. Health specialists warn that a damaging take a look at could trigger extra hurt than good when individuals start counting on them as a assure for indicating virus ranges.
Claudio Cruz/AFP

Traveling will current one other downside for Thanksgiving celebrations. For vacationers who take a look at damaging for COVID-19, flying or driving might re-expose individuals to the virus and trigger them to convey it with them to their locations.

Ernst mentioned that even brief journeys, like searching for cranberry sauce and stuffing, might trigger re-exposure.

“There’s so much community spread at this point. The numbers are so high that you could be tested today at 10 a.m., go to the grocery store at 10:30 a.m., come in contact with a person who was infected, and by 11:30 a.m., you would be COVID positive,” Ernst mentioned.

When it involves stopping the unfold of the coronavirus, Gulick mentioned testing shouldn’t be the reply. Rather, he mentioned one of the best guess for guaranteeing a secure Thanksgiving is to keep away from having gatherings all collectively.

“Thanksgiving, traditionally, is a time to get together with friends and family but this is not the year to do that. This could be a set up for super spreader events all across the country if people are not careful and following precautions,” he mentioned.

Various cities and states have issued warnings forward of the lengthy weekend, advising residents to cancel their Thanksgiving plans simply this 12 months.

On Wednesday, Harris County, Texas’ largest, despatched an emergency alert asking residents to cancel because the county recorded a 250 p.c enhance in confirmed circumstances. Governors in California, Oregon and Washington have all issued journey advisories forward of the vacation weekend.

COVID test line
People line up for COVID-19 assessments at Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C., on November 18. Neysa Ernst of Johns Hopkins Hospital says that even brief journeys, like searching for cranberry sauce and stuffing, might trigger re-exposure.
Mandel Ngan/AFP

While some might imagine will probably be secure if everybody attending a Thanksgiving gathering assessments damaging, Ernst urged individuals to rethink.

“This mentality of ‘as long as everyone gets tested, they’re safe’ is also a false sense of security,” she mentioned. “There’s asymptomatic spread. People don’t even have to know they had the virus. They take their temperature that morning, they’re fine, they go to Thanksgiving gathering and someone else gets infected.”

“We know of all the places people pick up COVID, indoor dining in restaurants has been the highest risk, so you could extrapolate that to a large indoor gathering for Thanksgiving dinner,” Gulick mentioned. “It really does raise concern about what we usually do.”

Ernst additionally pointed to the already overwhelmed well being care techniques dealing with an onslaught of coronavirus hospitalizations.

“The Midwest was relatively unaffected in the first surge, but everyday I get tweets from hospitals in Midwest saying, ‘We’re full. We have no ICU capacity,'” she mentioned. “We really need to change our quickly if we want to have any hope of this not becoming even more of raging wildfire than it already is.”

Ernst is worried that these hospitals will face even larger fallout after the Thanksgiving weekend, if individuals proceed to collect.

“Hospitals are going to look like they did back in March or April where elective procedures are canceled,” she mentioned.

“There’s not an unlimited pool of health care workers. There’s not an unlimited pool of hospital beds,” she added. “If you have health care workers that start to contract COVID, then you’re not going to have a health care provider to take care of that patient and that’s going to get even worse.”

Gulick is hopeful that this can be the one Thanksgiving that households and mates should cancel gatherings in efforts to forestall an outbreak.

“It may be that this is the only Thanksgiving that we need to change what we do to a major extent,” he mentioned. “If the vaccine is rolled out later this month or into December and next year, then hopefully the pandemic can come under control and next Thanksgiving will be a different story.”

“Let’s be careful and respectful around our families. We all have family members that are at high risk for severe COVID, either because of their age or because of underlying conditions. This is not a year you want to pass the virus to those family members. People should take every precaution this year not to do that,” he added.

Update 18/11/20 5:32 p.m. This story was up to date to incorporate extra details about Roy Gulick’s affiliation.