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A negative COVID-19 test should not change one's behavior in stopping the spread, doctors say

They say, a negative test is not a free pass to travel and socialize without following CDC or state mitigation guidance

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Medical experts are recommending people keep holiday celebrations within their own households this year as COVID-19 spreads at a rate we have not seen before in Pennsylvania. 

"We're seeing spikes in Pennsylvania, higher hospitalizations," said Dr. Chris DeFlitch, Chief Medical Information Officer at Penn State Health. "And it's going to continue until we change our behaviors."

Dr. DeFlitch is reminding people to wash their hands, wear a mask, socially distance, and rethink Thanksgiving plans if they involve getting together with people outside of your household. 

"Thanksgiving's a special time," said Dr. DeFlitch. "It doesn't change the specialness if you have to have video distancing."

The state has also been testing a record number of Pennsylvanians for the virus, upwards of 60,000 tests per day. Some people may think a negative COVID-19 test means it's safe to travel and see family and friends. 

"A negative test is a good thing but it is not a free pass," said Dr. DeFlitch. 

That is something doctors across South Central Pennsylvania are echoing.

"A negative test today is just that and doesn't necessarily mean you'll be free of disease in the days to follow," said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Lancaster General Health.

Despite a high demand for testing, most hospitals in our area say, anyone who is deemed in need of a test can get one, and results take two to three days.