The Importance of Getting COVID-19 Tested to Plan a Safe Holiday

The COVID-19 pandemic has been frustrating for many people, isolating them from both loved ones and activities they enjoy. While the upcoming holiday season offers many families and friends the opportunity to reconnect, the team at Ascend Medical would like to remind you that holiday plans should be modified where possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially because small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

It is important for families to consider participating in frequent rapid testing leading up to their holiday event, stated Dr. Kristina Bogar, Chief Medical Officer at Ascend Medical.

Frequent or even daily rapid tests are recommended because if an infected individual tested negative during one test and took another rapid test in the next day or two, their infection would be caught, limiting the amount of time they could infect others. This gap in detection at the beginning of the infection is why the rapid tests need to be repeated daily or near-daily to make sure they don’t miss someone who is incubating the virus.

How Much Time Should You Allow for Results?

Thankfully, rapid tests are quick diagnostic tools and positive results are almost always accurate, allowing symptomatic people to be isolated quickly before they can infect others. Some rapid tests are point-of-care tests and results may be available at the testing site in less than 15 minutes. Other tests may take 1-2 days before results are available because the samples must be sent to a laboratory to analyze.

Where Can You Get Tested for COVID-19?

To get tested for COVID-19 you can visit your state or local health department’s website for the latest information on local testing.

Considerations for Safe Gathering

Wear a mask in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you will be around other people.

Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not from your household.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.

Avoid touching your face mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.

Considerations for Safe Hosting

Based on the current status of the pandemic, consider if it is safe to hold or attend the gathering on the proposed date. Check the infection rates in areas where attendees live on health department websites.

Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart at all times. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.

If possible, host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings. If you must gather inside due to weather, increase ventilation by opening windows and doors or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.

Require guests to wear masks. At gatherings that include persons of different households, everyone should always wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose, except when eating or drinking. It is also important to stay at least 6 feet away from people who are not in your household at all times.

Encourage attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items such as serving utensils.
Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.

Prioritize health this holiday season by choosing a primary care system that revolves around you. We offer membership-based healthcare services, mobile diagnostics, and 24/7, on-demand virtual visits to address all of your health concerns – exactly when and where it’s convenient for you. Book your same day appointment today!

Resources for Inspiration:

https://elemental.medium.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-covid-19-testing-before-the-holidays-38e85553071

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

https://medical.mit.edu/news/2020/10/is-covid-testing-key-to-safe-thanksgiving