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Staying Safe From COVID This Thanksgiving

A roasted turkey sits in the middle of a table with Thanksgiving decorations.
Families will once again gather for Thanksgiving, but precautions against COVID should still be in place.
(Brian Chase via Shutterstock)
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Millions of Americans are planning to travel this week and gather indoors for Thanksgiving — many in groups of 10 or more.

At the same time, COVID-19 cases are rebounding. So how do you stay safe?

“Unlike last year, we don't have to all stay at home for Thanksgiving,” says Andrew Noymer, a professor of epidemiology at UC Irvine. “There are some precautions that we can and should take — you should vaccinate, you should boost. But, you know, I'm not here to say that Thanksgiving is canceled.”

Noymer cautions that you need to wait at least four days after an exposure to test for the virus.

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“It's just important to keep in mind the incubation period,” he says. That means traveling through crowded airports and then immediately testing won’t provide an accurate result.

“A negative test is not a watertight guarantee that there's no COVID going on,” he says. “It just means that at the time of the testing, there's no SARS-CoV-2 present.”

Noymer says it’s hard to differentiate between COVID and other respiratory viruses such as the flu, so get tested if you have symptoms — especially before you head to grandma’s house.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.