N.C. health leaders recommend getting tested for COVID-19 before Thanksgiving gathering

N.C. health leaders recommend getting tested for COVID-19 before Thanksgiving gathering
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC is recommending families who usually travel to see each other hold virtual Thanksgivings instead. (Source: Pixabay)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina health officials are urging people to get tested for coronavirus before gathering or traveling for Thanksgiving.

The new guidance came Thursday, as NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen put emphases on college students getting tested for the virus before heading home to gather with family.

Cohen says those wishing to get a test should be able to do so. Experiencing symptoms will no longer be a requirement for testing, Cohen said. Places like CVS or Walgreens may have something that asks “why” individuals are being tested, and Cohen says people can indicate that the state public officials told them to do so.

Insurance companies like BlueCross BlueShield are covering a one-time test ahead of the holidays, Cohen said. A representative from BlueCross BlueShield clarified that the insurance company will cover a test any time if a doctor recommends it or the person getting the test has been in close contact with a positive case, among other reasons.

“I’m concerned that our numbers will trend even higher as we get together for the holidays,” Cohen said last week.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says he plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with his immediate family.

Cohen recommends those who do host or attend a holiday gathering to practice the following:

  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you feel sick, have been diagnosed or exposed to COVID-19
  • Gathering limits are in place and “smaller is better and outdoor is better than indoor”
  • Keep tables at least six feet apart from one another
  • Keep families living together at the same table
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • Wear masks the entire time when together when not actively eating or drinking
  • Stay at least six feet apart especially when eating or drinking
  • Consider getting a COVID-19 screening prior to traveling or attending a gathering

“If they don’t live with you, get behind the mask,” Cohen said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also put out guidance on how to stay safe this holiday during the coronavirus pandemic. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC is recommending families who usually travel to see each other hold virtual Thanksgivings instead.

The CDC also recommends “preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.”

Phase 3 of North Carolina’s reopening process was set to expire on Friday. Phase 3 has now been extended until Dec. 4. The new order reduced indoor gathering sizes from 25 people to 10 people.

Click here for the latest coronavirus numbers in North Carolina.

“Everybody in our state need to take covid-19 seriously," Cooper said. “Your mask should not just be for the grocery store or the office”

Copyright 2020 WBTV. CBS contributed to this article. All rights reserved.