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CoxHealth infection prevention specialist says a negative COVID-19 test could bring false sense of security for the holidays

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 8:37 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Getting a COVID-19 test before heading out for the holidays could bring a false sense of security for people planning to gather on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving.

“A negative test today does not ensure by any means that you will be negative tomorrow,” said CoxHealth Infection prevention specialist Neal DeWoody.

DeWoody said getting tested before you have symptoms of the coronavirus could likely bring you false results.

”Like the health department says, it’s just a snapshot in time,” DeWoody said. “You could be negative today and say ‘OK well I’m negative,’ but that doesn’t mean you weren’t incubating that virus to where you will be positive or at least infectious before it comes time to be around family members.”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been vocal in asking members of the community to limit Thanksgiving gatherings this year.

”One of the things that is so tough about this disease, that’s so tricky about it is that you can spread this two days before you ever have symptoms, and so I think there is a little bit of false safety in the idea of ‘I’m not sick, no one I know is sick, so we’re going to get together,” said Public Health Information Administrator Kathryn Wall.

Wall said having a plan in place before the holiday is important.

”You just don’t know if they could pass that on, so be aware of that, be aware that in a few days someone might be symptomatic and have a plan in place if that were to happen,” she said.

Wall said communication is key in preventing additional spread of the virus after your Thanksgiving gatherings.

”Are they symptomatic, are they feeling OK, are they going to get tested, you know having that information in your back pocket,” Wall suggested. “Knowing if the family member that you spent time with two days ago is starting to feel sick, you should definitely quarantine at that point knowing that you might have been exposed to something. "

Wall said if you do start to develop symptoms, don’t wait for them to start contact tracing. Instead, go ahead and alert the family and friends you may have gathered with so they can start taking action as quickly as possible.

Both Wall and DeWoody said testing capability in Springfield is strong, and recommend anyone feeling symptomatic to get tested for COVID-19.

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