Seemingly everyone in Everett has swarmed over the past week to get a COVID-19 test at the Stop the Spread sites across the City, notably trying to get a negative result before deciding whether or not to have a family gathering for Thanksgiving – something it seems the entire community, if not the country, is contemplating.
As of last Friday, there were a total of 3,293 confirmed cases in Everett since the outbreak, and Public Health Nurse Sabrina Firicano said the City is averaging in the high-30s of new cases every day. That means the virus is spreading and precautions are going to be needed, particularly as people make the decision about going to family get-togethers for Thanksgiving.
“I think it’s going to be really important to be aware of who you’re around and wearing your mask and washing your hands – social distancing as much as you can at a family gathering,” she said. “These things are known and we say it over and over and over. They really do work if you are following the correct guidelines. I always feel like I’m giving bad news, but it is the same things…We want people to keep their gatherings to 10 or less and that’s difficult. We really don’t want to see an increase in cases, but we are forecasting an increase in cases after Thanksgiving. That will give us a push into what we can expect and what we can do for Christmas.”
The state’s guidelines are quite clear that they are recommending people stay in their household and celebrate Thanksgiving, but with so many having been cooped up for so long, that is likely not realistic. However, Firicano said if residents do choose to go to a family celebration, she asks they approach it smartly – including changing how the celebration unfolds.
“As long as they stay under the 10-person limit and take all the precautions and do things a little differently, it isn’t prohibited,” she said. “People shouldn’t serve dinner with the traditional buffet style. I have heard a lot of messaging about if you go, bring your own plates and plastic utensils. That prevents people from sharing things. I’ve also heard a lot about bringing your own Thanksgiving dinner and eating with each other, but your food is pre-prepared instead of having the big buffet of food…That’s hard to do. The problem is when you eat your masks are down and that’s when you really need to be six feet apart. People definitely should not be sharing utensils and serving spoons.”
That’s where the testing has come in, and why lines have been very long at all of the City’s Stop the Spread testing sites.
“We are recommending testing and encourage people to go get tested before Thanksgiving because if you do receive a positive test result, then you won’t go to grandma’s house,” she said. “That’s why so many people are getting tested right now because there are asymptomatic people out there that are positive and may go to a small family gathering. I think it’s very proactive for people to be going to get tested and it shows they are trying to prevent illness and they are thinking of others.”
On Friday, Firicano said lines for testing have been unusually long in the week leading up to Thanksgiving and expected more long lines this week. For example, at Swan Street’s testing site, there was a line all the way to Hancock Street. Similarly, at the RiverGreen Park drive-thru test site last week, the line of cars stretched all the way back to the BNY Mellon building near Santilli Circle.
Firicano said testing is important, but it’s only a snapshot in time. For example, if someone is tested last Friday, and gets their negative result – it’s important to continue monitoring symptoms as they could be exposed in the time between.
“The test is like a snapshot in time,” she said. “It really only tells you at that moment what’s happening…People should really continue to monitor their symptoms and if you have symptoms stay home and don’t go to Thanksgiving dinner and get tested again.”