This holiday season has collided with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Many people have added another task to their travel and party planning to-do lists: Get tested.
As millions of people travel and join holiday and New Year celebrations, the contagious coronavirus may spread among loved ones gathering from near and far. And, the thinking goes, determining if anyone is bringing an unwanted guest (in this case, the virus) could help stop that chain of transmission. Receiving test results before events or travel can enable people to adapt their plans in order to prevent the virus from joining the festivities.
But negative COVID-19 tests don’t provide the final word. What a test does tell you can vary depending on what kind of test you use and when you take it—among other factors.
“It’s a snapshot in time,” says Jared Auclair, who runs Northeastern’s COVID-19 testing facility, the Life Sciences Testing Center in Burlington, Mass. And understanding how to interpret that snapshot can help you make decisions that keep your party and travel plans safer this holiday season.
Photo by Marius Becker/AP Images.