Doctors explain when to get COVID tested before, after traveling for Thanksgiving


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The CDC has recommended people don’t travel at all for Thanksgiving next week, and doctors in the cape Fear are echoing those guidelines.

“The first bit of advice is to not travel,” Wilmington Health Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Gina Berthold said.

If you are traveling though, doctors say wearing a mask, getting tested and social distancing can all make your trip much safer. If you do get tested, they say you should be mindful of how soon you get tested before leaving.

“We really don’t want Thanksgiving to be the Grinch that steals Christmas this year,” NHRMC Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Kamitsuka said.

If you are traveling though this season, Kamitsuka says flying is relatively safe as long as people are masking.

“In the jet plane, there are so many air exchanges per hour, especially if you stay in your lane,” he said. “Stay in your seat. Then the risk becomes quite low.”

Doctors say the COVID-19 precautions start before you leave though.

“When you are at the airport or on a plane, you want to not take that mask off,” Berthold said. “So not eating a drinking when you’re around other people. So if you’re getting something to eat or drink in the airport, make sure you’re more than six feet away from other people, and don’t take your mask off to eat and drink when you’re on the plane itself.”

“I got tested yesterday on campus, because I’m planning to go home this weekend,”

Some UNCW students have already started getting tested before they head home for thanksgiving and the end of the semester.

“I leave in like five days, so I think today or tomorrow I’m going to try to get tested.”

Berthold cautions that COVID testing isn’t 100% accurate right now.

“If you weren’t quarantining for the 10 days before your test, you may have a small amount of virus that’s not making you sick yet and that’s not going to turn positive on your test,” she said.

Doctors stress, wearing a mask and distancing your entire trip limits your exposure as much as possible.

“All a negative test means is that you’re negative that day,” Kamitsuka said. “So let’s say yesterday, I got exposed to somebody and caught the virus. It may take several days for me to manifest.”

Students say they’re already trying to do limit their exposure that before they hit the road next week.

“We’ve kind of all been keeping our circles closer than we normally do,”

Kamitsuka and Berthold say you should keep an eye on how you feel after your trip too, and even quarantine if you can. If you start to have symptoms around five to nine days after your trip, they say you might want to get tested.

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