As people travel home for Thanksgiving, experts warn a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean you are immediately in the clear

THE INVESTIGATORS: Health experts say a negative COVID-19 test doesn't mean you're in the clear from spreading it to family members

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and one look around Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans it seems this year won’t break that tradition despite COVID-19 cases once again surging in Louisiana and across the country.

“It will be busier this week than it’s been since March,” explains Armstrong International Airport’s director of aviation Kevin Dolliole.

With many cooped up since March travelers who spoke with WAFB say they are thinking about the risk but believe it’s worth it to see family.

“We couldn’t get a voucher to come at a later date so there was no way we were going to throw away the money,” one traveler said.

“I’m going anyway. You know and you want to go see mama and grandma and family members. You just have to take that chance,” another traveler said.

Experts say taking that chance may not be worth the risk.

“Because there’s nothing that will provide 100 percent safety,” Dr. Joe Kanter said. Testing is up right now.

Dr. Joe Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health says more of you are trying to take a test in order to get the green light to visit family for that Thanksgiving feast— but he says testing is not full proof.

“Just on the test itself, no test is 100 percent. Every test has a margin of error or a sensitivity rating and none of the tests are 100% accurate. Some are quite good but not 100 percent so the test might be wrong,” Dr. Kanter said.

Another issue is the timeline, he says getting a rapid test right now or even a few of them still won’t fully put you in the clear that’s because there’s still a risk between the time you take the test and when you sit down at a family member’s home where you could be exposed to the virus.

“You have a window that you don’t really have visibility on that adds risk as well and a lot of times you’ll see someone test negative when they actually were positive and expose but just haven’t had enough days to build up enough virus to meet the testing special and they think they’re okay but they’re actually not,” Dr. Kanter said.

The expert advice is clear, no test can give you complete protection and they say if you must travel, wearing a mask and keeping your distance is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put out a list of recommendations to celebrate Thanksgiving safely to reduce the spread of COVID-19. You can find that by clicking here.

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