Coronavirus Bay Area: Appointments for tests before Thanksgiving hard to come by

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Health officials are recommending you stay home this holiday season, but for those intent on traveling, COVID-19 test appointments right before Thanksgiving may be hard to come by.

'Tis the season, but this season travel for Thanksgiving could look vastly different.

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"Just have Thanksgiving within your own family group. You know this is not the time to be flying around," said Dr. George Rutherford, Professor at UC San Francisco.

Rutherford says if you are going to be flying, get tested for COVID-19 before you leave and once you arrive at your destination, ideally with three to five days in between tests.

With many people traveling for the holidays despite the pandemic, booking a test in advance may be difficult.

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Anyone who tried to book a coronavirus test with CityTestSF, discovered appointments were extremely limited at the Embarcadero location.

The San Francisco COVID Command Center tells ABC7 News CityTestSF limits the number of appointments available in advance to ensure that essential workers that have symptoms, and those workers who have been exposed, are prioritized for testing.

The company "Color" tells ABC7 News it is working with the city to provide more than 1,700 tests per-day at the Embarcadero site. Also that it is committed to supporting the city in efforts to expand testing in other locations.

"We agree that prioritization should be for individuals who are symptomatic and concerned with a significant close exposure," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly during a press conference Tuesday.

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That being said, Dr. Ghaly says the goal is to test more broadly.

"That helps us not just from a surveillance perspective but it gives us confidence we're finding those asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases and have the chance to reduce transmission through the additional contact tracing and isolation protocols," said Dr. Ghaly.

Test or no test, if you are flying, Dr. Rutherford suggests wearing glasses in addition to a face mask. He also suggests sitting towards the middle of the plane away from the restrooms where passengers are likely to congregate.

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