Yes, you should get tested for Covid before going to any gathering

Sorry to disappoint, but Covid-19 remains an existing and ongoing threat. The US is in the midst of a months-long rise in confirmed cases — with no sign of leaders re-executing mask mandates and two new sub-variants potentially more contagious than omicron rearing their ugly head — just as summer party season is in full swing. .

Among the tried and true mitigation efforts, such as masking and aeration, testing remains essential, regardless of vaccination status, especially if you plan to aggregate in any capacity. (While the risk of infection is much lower for outdoor events, testing is important regardless of whether your party is indoors or outdoors.)

“Testing is really important,” says Abrar Karan, MD, an infectious disease physician and researcher at Stanford University. “The problem is, as time goes on and people get more and more tired, they may not think it matters.” Karan says the fatigue test can come about during big events like concerts, primarily because you’re not likely to see other attendees again. You are unlikely to ever know if other party-goers have fallen ill.

After years of postponed holidays and celebrations, Karan says people may be reluctant to test themselves before these important events for fear that they may have to skip the occasion if they test positive. Add in the potential cost of the tests and the logistical hurdles of even finding a test center and it’s no surprise that people skip this precaution altogether. However, the mindset of ignorance is a blessing that does more harm than good because there is a very high possibility of transmission should an infectious person inadvertently attend a party.

Pre-pool testing is quick, affordable, and relatively accessible compared to what it was during the omicron wave in 2021 and early 2022. Here’s what to consider about testing if you’re going to be attending or hosting a party this summer.

for visitors

If you’re scanning before hitting, test as close as possible to the start of the event, says Karan. This includes some planning, as the test is no longer free for people without insurance — it costs between $100 and $200 for PCR tests and $10 to $40 for rapid tests — and some testing sites have closed. Because PCR tests take longer to process (and you have a higher likelihood of contracting Covid in the time between taking the test and the event itself), Karan recommends partygoers use rapid antigen tests. “Antigen tests are very good at detecting if you have the possibility of transmission, especially early in the infection,” he says.

Every American family is eligible to receive free home tests by mail or may be reimbursed by health insurance companies for the cost of express tests. The government also maintains a database of testing sites that offer free or low-cost tests; Some municipalities distribute rapid home tests at libraries and community health centres.

If you are exposed to someone with Covid-19, it is best to get tested several times in the week leading up to the event. “This is how you’re going to catch the infection and stop it spreading,” Karan says.

As disappointing as it may be, if you get a positive result on your pre-party test, don’t attend the meeting. Tell your host that you have tested positive for Covid-19 and you will have to miss the event but that you will celebrate with them once you have recovered. “You have to be willing to say, ‘I’m not going, and that’s the problem we’re having,'” says Donald Yili, MD, chief medical officer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They still want to try to get that social connection. It just means that you become a spreader. “

While testing before the party can help you feel confident that you won’t spread Covid to other attendees, your individual negative test won’t have much effect on spread if no one else at the event gets tested. In cases where hosts do not ask guests to be tested in advance, or if you are unsure of protocol, check the online community’s Covid-19 level and make the best decision based on your personal risk assessment, says David Souleles, Director of the Covid Response Team- 19 at the University of California, Irvine.

For example, if the county where your cousin’s indoor baby shower is taking place has a high level of transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that masks be worn in public places regardless of vaccination status and improved ventilation (which you likely have control over). Too few on it.) For people who are immunocompromised or at high risk, the CDC recommends wearing an N95 or KN95 respirator and talking to your doctor about treatments such as oral antivirals.

“If you have been vaccinated and reinforced and are not at high risk, you can choose to test yourself and attend the event, and then test again three to five days after the event. You may also decide that you want to mask while attending the event even if your host does not need to disguise,” Souleles says. “If you are a person at a higher risk of developing a serious illness, or you live with or are near a person at greater risk more frequently, you may decide to move a specific event to reduce the risk.”

for the hosts

Party hosts have the ability to dictate Covid protocols at their event. If you ask your guests to test negative for Covid before an event, it’s up to you to decide how to check guest results, says Souleles. While most party planners may feel comfortable with the honor system, trusting their guests have already tested and will stay home if they test positive, others may want to ask attendees to show a photo with a timestamp of their negative test. Another option, Souleles says, is to provide quick tests for guests to take when they arrive — though, depending on the size of your party, this can get expensive if you’re paying $10 for one test.

In the event that you or someone else at the party later tests positive and reports to you, tell the other guests as soon as possible, advises Yealy. Don’t tell the rest of the guest list who came with Covid, but say, “I just wanted to let you know we had a guest who tested positive.” This way, guests can make a timely, informed decision about testing and isolation.

For everyone

In addition to scanning before the event, Souleles says everyone should test again three to five days after gathering just to be safe. If you’re traveling to a wedding and extending your stay after the nuptials, pack a few quick tests to take with you so you don’t have to hunt around for local drugstores for tests, Souleles recommends.

If you experience positive days after the party, tell your host or guests as soon as possible, says Yealy. “You won’t know the medical conditions and risks for a serious version of Covid-19 for all the other people you’ve been in contact with,” Yealy says. “The nice thing to do is to tell them just so everyone can assess how worried I should be about it.”

While the process of informing your network can be “really psychologically challenging,” Karan says, the more those around you realize their vulnerability, the more likely they are to isolate, test, and hopefully prevent further spread.

Testing is just one aspect of a strong defense against Covid-19. When you’re not sure if goers to parties, weddings, or concerts have taken the same precautions you have, count on other mitigation efforts, Yealy says: vaccinate, mask while indoors or at crowded events, and improve ventilation. Yealy says, “Do the simple things and do them well.”

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