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Negative COVID-19 test not a green light for family Thanksgiving, safety tips from SIPH

A family at Thanksgiving logo_ Connie Ma : CC BY-SA 2.0
Connie Ma : CC BY-SA 2.0

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Families across the country are making the tough decision this week as to how they'll spend their holiday.

Due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, 61% of Americans have changed their Thanksgiving plans, according to a new poll.

But some are determined to spend the holiday with their loved ones. In the past two weeks, health officials report more Idahoans got tested for the coronavirus than ever before.

“We think it’s probably because many people are wanting to get tested before they spend time with family, either here locally or in other parts of the country,” said Maggie Mann, the director of Southeastern Idaho Public Health.

But does a negative test result mean it's safe to gather indoors with extended family during a pandemic?

“Testing can be a really helpful tool, it really depends on the timing though,” Mann said.

“Let’s say I was around somebody yesterday who had Covid and we didn’t know it. I could get tested today, and it’d be too early in the course of the infection for the test to pick that viral infection up. So, I could get the result back, think that I’m negative, go to my Thanksgiving event, and by that point be contagious myself,” Mann said.

If you plan to spend the holiday with people outside your household, Mann offers some safety tips.

“There are things you can do to make it more low risk,” Mann said.

  1. Wear a mask when you're not eating. We can catch the virus even around the people we trust the most, so Mann suggests not letting your guard (or mask) down.
  2. Stay social distanced. Eat at separate tables to add more space between households.
  3. Open a window to allow more air circulation. Or brave the cold and eat outside like a real Idahoan.
  4. Wash your hands regularly. Use paper towels instead of a communal cloth towel.
  5. Don't share utensils when serving dinner.
  6. Watch for symptoms after the event.

You can find more tips for a safe Thanksgiving from the CDC by clicking here.

The safest way to spend Thanksgiving together this year may be by spending it apart. But with technological advances, there's still a way to be together. Here are some tips for a virtual holiday.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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