holiday gatherings

Xmas Dinner With Grandpa? Many Use Negative Test Results to Justify Extended Family Gatherings

Many people are planning to gather and take part in social gatherings despite the advice of public health officials.

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As COVID-19 cases surge across the country and public health officials warn against social gatherings, many people in San Diego are choosing to ignore the advice and are moving forward with plans to be with their extended families for the holiday this week.

They have a simple justification: a negative coronavirus test result.

“We’re hoping to have Christmas Day with my 91-year-old dad and 89-year-old mom,” said Keith Brandt of Solana Beach.

Brandt was one of hundreds of people at the U.S. Specialty Labs private drive-thru testing sight in Sorrento Valley on Tuesday.

Many said they plan to celebrate in person with their elderly parents, arguing that getting tested is the responsible thing to do before the gatherings.

“We don’t want to get them sick, so I don’t want to be around people who are highly vulnerable if I’ve got the disease,” Brandt said.

Danica Drykerman showed up at the testing site with several family members. They’re hoping to be with her stepfather, who’s currently undergoing radiation treatment.

“We’ve made the decision to cancel the big family Christmas dinners and holiday get-togethers," Drykerman said. "I think we’re just trying to be responsible."

U.S Specialty Labs offers COVID-19 testing for $35-$85, depending on the test. Results are usually available within 24 hours.

Lab owner Bryan Andrus is confident the tests are accurate. He says positivity rates have skyrocketed over the last several weeks.

“We watched the positivity rate go from about 1.8 to 2, up to 6, 7 percent, and that’s what we’re seeing right now, and again, these are populations that believe they are healthy,” Andrus said.

While the people being tested are aware of the surging number of COVID-19 cases and have heard warnings from public health officials, they’re confident a negative test puts them in a safe position to gather.

“It’s really hard," Ali Shearer said. "We had to talk about it for a long time, and still, we have many family members who can’t come visit us, because, you know, too much of a risk."

Shearer was getting tested with her brother prior to the arrival of her grandmother for the holidays.

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