Austin officials urge testing, isolation for Thanksgiving travelers

Coronavirus testing
By Talk 1370

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Local health officials are urging anyone who traveled or gathered for Thanksgiving to get tested for COVID-19 and to isolate themselves for at least a week, if not longer.

The recommendations, based on CDC guidance, aim to help slow the spread of COVID-19 with cases continuing to rise in Travis County and across the country.

"COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising locally, across Texas and the United States," Austin Public Health director Stephanie Hayden said in a statement. "It is critically important that everyone do their part to combat COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings and travel this holiday season. Do not gather with people that you do not live with during the holiday season, avoid high risk activities and stay home as much as possible. Those who have already gathered or traveled need to make sure that they take the proper precautions to stay safe."

Higher-risk holiday activities include attending crowded, indoor gatherings, going on crowded hayrides with non-household members, participating in traditional caroling or other door-to-door activities, and traveling outside of your community for gatherings and events. 

If you participated in any of these activities over the Thanksgiving holiday, officials recommend that you:

  • Get tested at least 3-5 days after gathering or traveling AND stay home for 7 days after gathering or traveling. 
  • Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days. 
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 14 days after gathering or traveling.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe complications or death from COVID-19 for 14 days after gathering or traveling, regardless of whether you get tested.

Austin Public Health says it has more than enough capacity for free COVID-19 testing. Individuals can take a self-assessment online at www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19; walk-up testing is also available. 

"Additional holidays are around the corner; if people still plan to travel despite public health risk guidance, they should consider the 3 'C's; wear a face Covering, avoid Crowds, and decrease your time in Confined areas," said Janet Pichette, Chief Epidemiologist for Austin-Travis County. "We must do our part in the community to keep our families and each other safe."