APH: Get a COVID-19 test if you traveled, participated in Thanksgiving high-risk activities


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health is issuing new guidelines for those who traveled or participated in high-risk activities over Thanksgiving.

Those high-risk activities include if you attended crowded indoor gatherings, went on a crowded hayride with people who don’t live in the same household, caroled or did other door-to-door activities and if you traveled outside of your community for gatherings or events.

“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising locally, across Texas and the United States,” said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director. “Those who have already gathered or traveled need to make sure that they take the proper precautions to stay safe.”

The following are their guidelines based on recommendations from the CDC:

  • Get tested at least three to five days after gathering or traveling AND stay home for seven days after gathering or traveling. 
  • Even if you test negative, stay home for the full seven days. 
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected. 
  • If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 14 days after gathering or traveling. 
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe complications or death from COVID-19 for 14 days after gathering or traveling, regardless of whether you get tested.  

Experts say quarantining is important, because tests aren’t perfect with some about 70 percent accurate.

“Getting a negative test is not necessarily a fool-proof way to say ‘I’m not contagious.’ Seventy percent is way better than zero, but you have to combine that with staying inside for a week,” said Dr. Karen Smith, senior staff physician at Baylor Scott & White Health.

Every Thanksgiving, Dr. Smith sees a huge uptick in disease, especially the common cold and flus. Now, with a pandemic, avoiding large indoor gatherings is the safest form of protection from the coronavirus.

“If you have a pandemic pod or a quarantine quorum or a team that you gather with regularly and you have committed to not gathering with others, you can have your holidays with those people if they don’t show signs of COVID-19,” Dr. Smith explained.

Austin Public Health warned about the risks of traveling and gathering for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 4 on the COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines last week.

Protective measures were recommended for people at higher risk, mainly those over 65-years-old, people with preexisting conditions or those who are otherwise immunocompromised.

Sign up for a COVID-19 test on APH’s website.

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