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Rapid testing good screening tool for Thanksgiving travel

EL PASO, Texas -- Covid cases are rising in the Borderland at a time when thousands will be traveling for Thanksgiving.

Health experts are urging you to get tested before you meet up with your loved ones, at-home tests could give you some peace of mind.

You can find these test kits at local pharmacies for about $20.

Dr. Armando Meza, chief of infectious diseases with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso says these rapid tests also known as antigen tests are quick and easy to use. 

Experts suggest taking a test a few days before you travel like today for example and then the day of the gathering.

"One of the reasons we recommend (these tests) is that it's possible even if you're vaccinated to become infected with COVID-19 and not have a lot of symptoms, means you might play someone else at risk, who is not vaccinated or who's immunocompromised," said Dr. Ed Michelson, chief of emergency medicine with TTUHSC.

"So as an added layer of safety, if you get yourself tested before you travel, and maybe do another test, once you arrive at your destination, that'll give you some further peace of mind that you're not spreading the COVID virus to someone else who might get very sick."

Meza says getting vaccinated is still the best way to  prevent the spread of covid, but testing is also important - especially around the holidays.  

However, it's important to keep in mind these tests aren't 100 percent accurate especially if you've just been exposed.

"So if you have a positive test, you should assume that you are infected. But if you have a negative test, you cannot assume that you are not infected because there will still be those individuals that will not test positive at the early stages of the disease," Meza said.

If you buy one of these rapid tests make sure they're approved by the FDA.

Meza says PCR tests are still the most accurate tests to take adding that you shouldn't really replace them with these rapid tests. They just complement each other.

Michelson suggests to try to get together with your friends and family outdoors when possible. If you're inside you want it to be in a well ventilated area, adding that being vaccinated is still the best way to fight the virus.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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