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Tips and Test Locations for a COVID-Safe Thanksgiving

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This Thanksgiving is shaping up to be the first real holiday gathering since the pandemic hit the world upside the head in March 2020. People are planning to stuff themselves into kitchens and living rooms with loved ones as they stuff (and likely drink) themselves silly.

But that pesky COVID-19 thing is still, unfortunately, very much a thing. However, 20 months later, we’re all a little more educated and have better resources to help keep ourselves and each other safe. 

So, let’s take a look at how we can minimize excessive ‘giving’ Thursday.

Vaccination is the first line of defense, and the Bay Area is doing relatively well on that end. Younger kids, especially in San Francisco, are being vaccinated and average adults are starting to line up for boosters. But our groups will consist of people with varying levels of vaccine efficacy, and we know that the virus can still be transmitted, albeit less often, by the fully vaccinated.

The safety strategy will be different for individuals with different levels of vaccination and vulnerability. Masking and keeping some distance may be a wise choice for some, and the people you gather with should respect that choice, as you should respect the safety plan they’ve set for their households. Don’t let yourself be bullied into a risky situation.

The safest households will be those where everyone gathered is fully vaccinated and can provide negative test results within the 72 hours prior. The PCR tests are considered the most accurate, though rapid tests are probably the best option if you haven’t already been swabbed ahead of the holiday. 

A pair of self-administered rapid (antigen) tests are available at most drug stores for about $23. From the comfort of your own home, the self-test will give you results in about 10-15 minutes, depending on which brand you use.

There are numerous free rapid test options available through county health department clinics and at pharmacies. Select CVS locations offer no cost rapid tests with results within a few hours, though there are very few locations taking appointments this week. Walgreens also offers contactless rapid testing, but available locations are primarily out of state. 

County health departments may be the easiest bet for getting a free test quickly, but be aware that most clinics will be shut down on Thursday and Friday. Below are links to find test locations in each county: 

We wish you all an amazing and delicious Thanksgiving with the people you love — just remember, keeping them safe is probably the best way to be thankful!

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.