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'Rethink your Thanksgiving plans': Doctor concerned negative COVID-19 test would give false sense of security

Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 15:57:41-05

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge across the state with Thanksgiving—a holiday focused around gathering— just a week away, Ohioans are asked to halt their traditions this year in the hopes of slowing down community spread so the next holiday season is guaranteed.

Dr. Carla O’Day, an emergency medical doctor at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, said 2020 is not the year to have a big Thanksgiving dinner.

“I would urge all of you to rethink your Thanksgiving plans, make them small or skip it this year, because, you know, next year it's going to be much, much better because we will have had the vaccine and we will have a certain level of immunity in the community.”

O’Day said while more tests are being done—approximately 8,000 per day statewide, there is a tremendous concern that people will use a negative test as justification for visiting family and friends on Thanksgiving.

“The tests have a very high false-negative rate," O'Day said, likely in reference to the antigen tests, which are much less accurate than the PCR tests. "So just having a negative test doesn't mean that you're necessarily negative in the big scheme of things. You can be negative then the next day be positive. The governor had that. He was positive and then negative. So the tests are not the most reliable things in the world."

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said we will have to build a bridge to get there as obtaining the first batch of the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine is still a month or so away, and at that point, only about 30,000 doses will be available.

“I think what we need to do is decide what is important in our lives. It seems to me that keeping kids in school is important. Making sure that a single mom can feed her kids and she can work, I think that's pretty important. The inconvenience of wearing a mask isn't a lot,” DeWine said.

O’Day echoed the importance of Ohioans making small sacrifices like wearing a mask and maintaining limited physical contact with others.

“And the big picture is not so awful, especially when we know that help is coming,” O’Day said. "And I can promise you that Thanksgiving in 2021 is going to be much, much better.”

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