HOUSTON - Thanksgiving is known as a time of family, friends, and fellowship, but that can get challenging to pull-off during a pandemic.
If you're still trying to decide whether to go visit family members for Thanksgiving, and you didn't start that two-week quarantine before the holiday that so many suggested, Dr. Michael Chang with UT Physicians and UTHealth shares his advice.
First, he suggests you consider this if you plan to get a COVID-19 test to protect others.
“The testing is not going to be as reliable as when you're asymptomatic, so if you been asymptomatic, and you get tested, a negative test isn't necessarily 100% exclude the infection. And then the other problem is, it depends on when you get tested, relative to the travel. If you get tested like a week before traveling, and you're still having to go to work, there's unfortunately this whole period of time in between where you could become infected and you wouldn't know. So I would caution people on using tests as a hard go or ‘no go’ measure about whether or not to travel,” states Dr. Chang.
If you haven’t been able to quarantine leading up to Thanksgiving, and you don’t plan to get tested for COVID-19, Dr. Chang suggests you highly consider wearing a mask at a gathering of extended family.
“If you have a high risk individual that you're planning to visit, if you can minimize your exposures before going and then while you're there, I think you would want to try to physical distance at grandma's house. If you can, I would wear a mask. Again, if you're going to be in contact with a high-risk individual, and especially if there's someone who can't wear a mask, the mask is really to try to prevent the spread outward and it may help a little bit with preventing your exposure. Yes, I know that sounds kind of crazy for a family gathering, but if you have a high risk individual, and you are limited in your ability to take precautions prior to visiting them, then while you're at your family member's house, then the way you would try to minimize risk of transmission would be physical distancing, wearing a mask within the household, etc,” states Dr. Chang.
He also says please consider canceling any plans if you get sick.
“So if at any point prior to your travel, you become symptomatic, I would think really hard about not going. Like you may have to amend your travel plans, if you become sick. Again the testing is not 100%, so if you have symptoms of COVID, loss of taste or sense of smell, or you get a sore throat or you get a fever, and you have a negative COVID test, I still would recommend that anyone who's symptomatic, try to cancel their plans, especially if they're visiting a high risk individual,” says Dr. Chang.
He reminds us that staying at home and not travelling is the safest thing to do. If you plan to fly, Dr. Chang suggests you wear a mask the entire time on the flight and only slip a straw under it to stay hydrated. He also suggests only going to the bathroom on a flight if it's an emergency.
Click here for more of UT Health’s travel guide advice,.