When should you get a COVID-19 test after traveling for Thanksgiving?

ATLANTA — Now that Thanksgiving has passed, you may be thinking about getting a COVID-19 test. But when is the best time to take one?

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with a local doctor who expects to see a huge spike in cases over the next couple of weeks.

Despite guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of Americans still took to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving. Now, metro Atlanta hospitals and testing sites are bracing for a post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 spike following the long holiday weekend.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Coronavirus Pandemic in Georgia]

Seiden was in Austell, where despite the rain, several cars were lined up at a drive-thru testing site at Peachtree Immediate Care. The staff told Seiden they were completely booked Sunday and expecting a huge rush in the coming days .

Seiden asked Peachtree Immediate Care’s chief medical officer, Dr. James Yost, how to time out a post-Thanksgiving COVID-10 test.


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“We understand that’s there’s an incubation period with COVID, meaning that after you were exposed and you contracted the virus, there’s a certain amount of time before you develop symptoms or the virus reaches a level that’s high enough for us to detect with current testing,” Yost said.

Yost said the average time period is about five days, but there are patients who were exposed and tested negative on Day 2 or 3 -- or even negative on Day 7 -- but tested positive on Day 10.

Yost said that if you are worried about an exposure on or around Thanksgiving, you should wait a couple days unless you are already showing symptoms.

Yost said it’s also important that if you attended a large gathering, you stay in contact with anyone else who was there just in case someone else tests positive.

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