What You Should Know About Covid-19 Testing Before Gathering

Health officials are still recommending that people not travel for the holidays. But as indicated by Thanksgiving travel, there’s a good chance people will be visiting family and friends over the December holidays. There are a few important things to keep in mind if you’re planning to get tested before seeing others. One, you should definitely get a test. But two, keep in mind that one negative test is not enough to definitively say that a person does not have the virus. Here’s why, as I’ve previously reported:

The incubation period for Covid-19 — the number of days between when you get infected and when you might see symptoms — can be as long as 14 days. Most people develop symptoms of the virus five to six days after they were exposed (and some people never develop noticeable symptoms). In rare cases, people have developed symptoms at around two days after infection, and data suggests most people will have developed them by day 12. Now, keep in mind that people who get infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 can spread it two or three days before their symptoms start, and people can be most contagious a couple days before they feel ill.

This is why you can’t rely on testing alone to keep you and your loved ones Covid-19-free. Ideally, you would also be taking lots of precautions to ensure that the risk that you are positive is very low in addition to getting a Covid-19 test, like staying away from others and indoor spaces before traveling or gathering.

Read more below.

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Alexandra Sifferlin

Alexandra Sifferlin

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that