As Minnesotans prepare to gather for holidays, many getting COVID-19 tests

Some Minnesotans are taking precautions before getting together with loved ones later this week by getting COVID-19 tests. Medical experts say it’s especially important as the omicron variant continues to spread.

"We are getting together with the family for the holiday so we thought we would get a test just to make sure everybody is safe and do a little preemptive strike against COVID," Dave Cornille said.

"It’s actually a very good plan, said KSTP Medical Expert Archelle Georgiou.

"The predominant recommendation is to test, have everyone test, have a testing plan that everyone agrees to right before everyone gets together," Georgiou said.

She says layering will be important if you are planning a family get-together.

"What layering means is getting vaccinated, getting your booster shot if you can, wearing a mask when that’s appropriate if you’re in a large crowd, having proper ventilation and using rapid home testing as appropriate," she added.

Because those rapid home tests have been hard to find in some areas, Georgiou says get some early and have them on standby. And, if you aren’t vaccinated but plan to get together with people, she says to keep a mask on when indoors.

"I know that is really inconvenient and it creates a barrier between family members and stress especially, but if we just look at formal recommendations, especially as large as the group is, the more important it is for someone not vaccinated to wear a mask," Georgiou added.

"As of today, we are averaging more than 500 testing individuals in our office," said Mohamed Ahmed, the executive director of African Immigrants Community Services.

This week, state testing sites in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth are adding more availability for testing to the schedule.

"With the holidays now, a lot of people are traveling to see a lot of people, a lot of people are traveling here, so we have seen a lot of people taking the test for travel reasons," Ahmed said.

Ray and Pat Mattson say testing is a requirement before their family get-together.

"We came here for a spit test so we can go to our family Christmas," Ray Mattson shared.

When asked if it makes him feel better knowing his family will all be tested, Mattson responded, "Oh yeah, definitely."

Georgiou says the delta variant is still the predominant one here in Minnesota, but one symptom she is hearing more about with omicron is a scratchy, sore throat.

She says that’s something to keep in mind and get tested if you notice the symptom.