Doctors warn of potential risk for false negative COVID results ahead of Thanksgiving


CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – South Carolina is seeing an increase of COVID-19 testing ahead of Thanksgiving.

SCDHEC says many are taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus to loved ones, but doctors at Conway Medical Center are warning of false negative results.

“It may be several days before I develop symptoms, but I may be infectious during that window of time,” said Dr. Paul Richardson, Chief Medical Officer.

A window of time that could include the day of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and a busy weekend for travel.

Richardson says it all depends on when a person is tested and if they tested too early after contracting the virus.

Someone who tested negative last week could be infectious before developing symptoms. Potentially spreading the virus to loved ones during the holiday.

News13 asked Richardson if he was concerned of a COVID-19 spike at CMC within the next two weeks.

“Absolutely. To me, I think if we do not have a surge after this holiday I will be shocked,” said Richardson.

That’s why health officials are asking families to keep gatherings as small as possible.

“I can tell you for a fact that every holiday we’ve had really since this has started, we have seen an uptick. Some a little worse than others,” said Richardson.

But winter holidays are often celebrated indoors with limited options for social distancing.

“We’re nowhere near going to be widespread vaccination by Christmas. That’s not going to happen. That is really, really concerning to me, is about the time we see the spike from Thanksgiving, we’re going to be sort of reloading, so to speak, for Christmas,” said Richardson.

He says virtual meetings are the safest option.

Outside gatherings or spaces with open windows are recommended to those meeting in-person. While avoiding physically meeting with the elderly and immune compromised.

“I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, so I want folks to stay vigilant on this,” said Richardson.

Richardson says while the majority of people can recover from the virus, it is still deadly to many.

He asks family’s to weigh the risk and benefit before meeting with loved ones this week.

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