‘Double quarantine’ period necessary for safer Thanksgiving gathering; but virtual is best

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DENVER (KDVR) — What is the most optimal way to visit family in person for Thanksgiving? The answer involves a process that takes time and planning.

Meanwhile, experts stress the safest option remains a physically separated virtual experience.

“Say I test today [and] I get my results back in three days … then that’s several days where I could’ve turned positive,” Dr. Heather Signorelli said, VP and chief lab officer at HealthONE.

That post-testing wait does not include precautions that are necessary prior to testing during the testing window period.

“It’s not just the activity of what you do after you get the collected sample, it’s the activity that you do several days before you get collected because … there’s a lag time,” Signorelli said.

To be safe, self-quarantining for a week to two weeks (the longer the better) is required to truly count on the validity on a negative test result. That quarantine then needs to continue until you arrive with loved ones for the holidays.

Driving would be the best way to ensure you won’t be infected before your visit.

“This may be a year to hunker down and just stay at home,” Signorelli said.

False negatives, while rare, are also possible. Not all tests are created equal. Rapid tests are not as accurate as their counterparts that require more waiting.

“In terms of the accuracy of the rapid test, I would say that in general, if you are symptomatic and it’s been less than five days of symptoms, you can trust a negative antigen test,” Signorelli said.

Asymptomatic positive people can still transmit the virus. However, if you feel healthy, the odds are in your favor.

“From an asymptomatic patient perspective, the positivity rate is low,” Signorelli said. “It’s between one to three percent.”

If you still want to achieve the most optimal way to be home for Turkey Day, quarantine is not your only wait in the process. HealthONE urgent care clinics are returning non-rapid test results in 2-3 days. The current wait is an improvement from earlier in the pandemic.

Denver Public Health sites will return results as soon as 24 hours. However, in some cases, it can take up to five business days, according to the health agency.

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