Families brace for COVID-19 test results before Thanksgiving

COVINGTON, KY — If the COVID-19 threat level remains high in the Tri-State, some families rush to get tested for Thanksgiving gatherings.

Wednesday morning, a steady stream of cars sauntered through the drive-thru proving ground at 4e Street in Covington. Karen Epplen and her daughter, Olivia, were two in line.

“Olivia just got back from school,” Epplen said. “She’s coughing a little and we’re just safe before we go see the grandparents.”

Some in line said they were getting tested because they had symptoms or needed a test for work, but many flew away or planned to see local relatives this holiday.

“To keep ourselves and other people we may come in contact with safe,” said Kevin Kobia, another person in line.

The Ohio Department of Health advised people to get tested before going on vacation as a new delta wave rises in hospitals and more vaccinated residents suffer from breakthrough infections. Mike Samet, a public health spokesperson for Hamilton County, encouraged people to get tested out of an abundance of caution.

“If you have people with compromised immune systems and what not, you may want to be ultra careful,” Samet said.

RELATED: ODH: Ohio COVID cases, hospital admissions ‘going in the wrong direction’

Gravity Diagnostics offers the PCR tests for free. Those can be more accurate at detecting the virus in individuals who don’t show symptoms compared to over-the-counter tests. They are available at drive-thrus in Ft. Mitchell, Florence and Covington.

Director of Field Services at Gravity Diagnostic Jeff Wellens said the team there served 612 patients on Tuesday. Nurses expected a record number before the holidays on Wednesday.

“Everyone is traveling,” Wellens said. “Some have a need for international travel, they want to go see grandma and grandpa and have a sensitivity to make sure they’re healthy.”

Many airlines require a negative PCR test for some flights, which cost $200 with CVG, so many opt for the free test at a Gravity Diagnostics location. A state partnership helps the company cover costs, and the lab can process the tests within hours.

“We just completed our 3 millionth COVID test in the past week since the start of this pandemic,” Wellens said. “So with that volume, we’ve clearly been able to perfect the process, bring in the right people and get the right equipment.”

To see a list of test locations, click here.

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