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Long Lines At Bay Area Test Sites To Ensure Safe, COVID-Free Thanksgiving Gatherings

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- The pandemic forced many to skip holiday parties last year so this week will be extra special for families who will gather for Thanksgiving. But some are taking the extra step to play it safe by getting tested for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, at the Santa Clara County test site at the fairgrounds, more than 2,200 people showed up to get tested for the virus. The site typically tests an average of 1,500 to 1,600 people a day. Organizers told KPIX they believe the spike is because people want to be sure they're COVID-free before they gather for the holiday.

Uttam Dubal and his family are renting a home with another family for Thanksgiving. He was in line at the fairgrounds along with his two young children.

"Everyone is kind of happy to do it just to be on the safe side," Dubal said. "All of the adults are vaccinated. Our elder kids that are above six, they've gotten the first dose already."

"We just had a family group text and we were just like, 'Let's get tested just to be sure and make sure that everyone's good,'" said Audrey Fernandez.

But University of California San Francisco Prof. of Epidemiology George Rutherford said testing isn't necessary for unvaccinated groups unless someone is concerned they were exposed to the virus, is in a high-risk group, like the elderly or at least one person is unvaccinated.

He said for those special circumstances, getting a rapid test is just fine.

Rutherford said those who received their last dose more than six months ago, and haven't received the booster, would also fall under the special circumstance category since the efficacies for the vaccines have proven to wane after six months.

"I'm not going to give it a blanket, 'Yeah, let's do it,' there are certain circumstances where it may make sense," said Prof. Rutherford. "If you have some mix of older and younger, and everybody's been vaccinated and all the more susceptible people have already gotten boosters, it's overkill. I think we're in good enough shape there."

But some said getting tested is convenient so they're getting it done anyway, including Fernandez.

Dubal said he's grateful his friend is on the same page about getting tested.

"I think it just gives us a little extra comfort before we hang out non-stop for four days," he said.

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