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Health department urges those who traveled for Thanksgiving to get tested, self-isolate

Sunday was the busiest day of air travel since the beginning of the pandemic with 1,176,000 choosing to fly, according to the TSA
Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 17:54:06-05

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — While it will be a week or 2 until we know the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our COVID 19 numbers in Michigan, the infectious disease experts at the county health department advise anyone who travelled or spent time around people they typically don’t, to get tested and avoid close contact with others for the moment.

“I think right now, we’re in kind of a waiting game,” said Brian Hartl, Epidemilogoy Supervisor at the Kent County Health Department.

“We know the incubation period for COVID is on average 5 days, so if people develop symptoms over the next couple of days after traveling, they may get tested, and then those results will come back later this week.”

Leading up to Thanksgiving, the health department, along with all 3 major hospital networks in West Michigan, reiterated their message of spending the holidays away from family this year to slow the spread of COVID.

“If you did travel, if you did take part in larger gatherings,” Hartl said.

“I guess, check yourself and think about quarantining. Self-quarantine, limiting close contact with others.”

The TSA said that Sunday was the busiest day of air travel since the beginning of the pandemic, with 1,176,000 passengers being recorded.

“If you took part in a high-risk situation, or you know, traveled in an airport… even if you don't have symptoms, I think that's a potential indicator to get a test,” Hartl said.

He says the best time to get a test is about 4 to 7 days after a potential exposure. If you don’t feel physically ill at that point, Hartl says, it does not necessarily mean you are in the clear.

“COVID-19 can potentially be spread… prior to someone becoming symptomatic,” Hartl said.

“You may be going about your normal business, thinking that you're fine, and then the next day develop symptoms, and you may have exposed, you know, some folks.”

So, if you have recently traveled and feel at all unsure about whether or not you caught the virus, Hartl says that being cautious for the moment can go a long way.

“It's important, you know, to take those precautions over the next 2 weeks. The best thing is to quarantine… limit your close contact with others… wear that mask, you know, try to do the 6-feet distance thing,” Hartl said.

Of the country’s more than 13 million COVID cases, 4 million of them were confirmed in November alone. Last week Governor Gretchen Whitmer wrote to the State Legislature, urging them to pass a 100 Million dollar relief bill, make unemployment benefits permanent and to enact laws that “protect public health”, such as mandates requiring face masks to web worn in public.

The Legislature is meeting Tuesday morning and is expected to discuss those issues.

You can always find the most current COVID information at the Kent County Health Department’s website.