REMINDER: A negative COVID-19 test result doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not infected

Hampden County

(WWLP) – Many people around the country are getting tested for COVID-19 before Thanksgiving in an effort to safely see their family, but a negative test result may not mean you’re in the clear.

Just because you get a COVID-19 test right before Thanksgiving and even if that test is negative it does not ensure you don’t have the virus, and that the virus won’t spread to loved ones.

Someone who tests negative before Thanksgiving could still become infected within the incubation period. The incubation time for COVID-19 is 14 days so if you test negative in the early days of the incubation period, it doesn’t mean you won’t develop symptoms or enough viral load to test positive later within the two-week period.

“After you’re infected it could take four or five days to get any symptoms if you have symptoms, and it might take even a few days longer to get a positive test,” Infectious Disease Dr. Daniel Skiest of Baystate Health said.

AMR says COVID-19 testing at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield has seen a steady increase over the past few weeks leading up to the pre-Thanksgiving gatherings.

“Just keep in mind that just because you test negative doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re virus-free. The timing of it has a big outcome as to whether your test will be negative or positive,” Patrick Leonardo, AMR western Massachusetts Operations Manager said.

According to the CDC, you should not host or participate in any in-person gatherings if you or anyone in your household is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

“We’re measuring the virus, how much virus there is in the infected person. And initially the virus levels are too low to be picked up by the test. So that’s why initially it might be negative they’re incubating at that point,” Skiest said.

Ultimately, public health officials and the CDC are recommending people keep all Thanksgiving gatherings to their own household and no one else.

AMR is also reminding residents their testing site at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week.

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