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CDC Now Says Do This Before Gathering Indoors

Do this even if you've been vaccinated or aren't experiencing symptoms of COVID.

Thanks to effective COVID-19 vaccines, holiday gatherings seem much more feasible than they did last year. However, rising case numbers—just over two weeks before Christmas travel peaks nationwide, in many areas of the country COVID cases and hospitalizations are hitting levels not seen for a year or more—and the discovery of the Omicron variant have re-introduced uncertainty into the social equation. If you're looking forward to hosting or attending a holiday gathering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new recommendation that may help all attendees—particularly those who are more vulnerable to severe COVID—stay healthy. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Do This, the CDC Suggests

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

On Monday, the CDC updated its guidance on at-home COVID tests. The agency now urges people to take a rapid self-test before gathering indoors with people from other households. That should be done even if you've been vaccinated or aren't experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.


How to Buy a Test Kit

Female pharmacist with protective mask on her face working at pharmacy.

Rapid test kits are available in pharmacies and online; they cost about $20 for a pack of two. The Biden administration just mandated that insurance companies reimburse policyholders for the cost of rapid testing. More information will be forthcoming in the new year, so hold on to your receipts.

RELATED: New Rules All Americans Must Follow Due to COVID


Why Self-Test?

Waiter coughing into elbow while serving customers in a restaurant.

"Even if you don't have symptoms and have not been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, using a self-test before gathering indoors with others can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19," the CDC says — especially "before gathering with unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease."

RELATED: 7 States Where COVID Will Spread Next, Say Experts


What Do My Test Results Mean?

Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19, novel coronavirus

The CDC says a positive self-test result means someone likely has a COVID-19 infection and should self-isolate for ten days and wear a mask when around other people. A negative result "means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection." 

"Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected," the CDC adds. The agency recommends following the instructions provided by the test manufacturer; some advise taking a second at-home test to confirm a negative result.

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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