Health officials say they are prepared for an uptick in testing during the holiday season.By Lindsay Ward

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For weeks, most medical experts have been pleading for people to stay home for the holidays and to not travel. However, many are not making any changes and health experts are finding out that before people are leaving, they’re getting tested.

Christmas is just days away, the New Year’s holiday is next week and this has state health leaders saying more people are more likely to get tested, rather than just stay home.

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This news has testing sites across the state ready for the surge in testing requests.

“The virus doesn’t care who the people are or where the contact is,” says Dr. Don Yealy.

Dr. Don Yealy is the Senior Medical Director of the Health Services division at UPMC. He says they’ve been able to increase their testing thanks to what is known as a PCR test and an antigen test, which shows results faster.

“It looks for parts of the virus. It’s less accurate — it’s pretty good but not as good as the PCR,” says Yealy.

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But even with more people looking to be tested during the holidays, Dr. Yealy says that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t there.

“A negative test on one day doesn’t guarantee that you’re completely free of the virus. There are some times that the presence of the virus early on is not detected, even with the best of tests that we have,” said Yealy.

He says we’ve come a long way where we’re able to conduct many more tests than before, but that doesn’t mean we should take risks.

“We’re able to test across the UPMC system over 2,000 people a day. In the beginning of the pandemic, we could do 25 people in a week. My question is — why would you want to acquire the infection particularly over the holidays or just after?”

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If you are still planning to see family, it’s suggested you keep your distance in the home from others and wear a mask at all times while inside.