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Getting tested for COVID: A new Christmas tradition?

We might be able to all agree that getting tested for COVID-19 is not something we want to carry over every year.

DENVER — Christmas is a time of tradition.

We might be able to all agree that getting tested for COVID-19 is not something we want to carry over every year.

"I was trying to get a PCR test to travel to Canada since I need to get it 72 hours (before) and it’s Christmas Eve. It’s really hard to find a test in Lakewood, near Cherry Creek," said Nikhil Puri.

Puri was trying to find an open testing site in downtown Denver and came up empty.

"I’m feeling nervous because this is the last day I can get a test and if I can’t get it today, I don’t know if I can catch a flight," said Puri. "I could pay to get a test at least, that’s my last hope."

"The website said it was open, but they’re clearly not," said Steven Dermody.

Dermody also came to the closed testing site downtown, but he just wanted a test for peace of mind.

"It’s more just being, kind of like, responsible as I can. We’re supposed to see friends tonight and tomorrow and they have kids," said Dermody. "I’m lucky I don’t have, like, crazy intense family plans right now, but I feel for the people that do."

"Even if you’re not worried about your own health, for whatever reason, to be worried about the health of those around you, whether it’s your family members or your neighbors, the person next to you in church," said Dr. Jean Kutner, Chief Medical Officer at UCHealth.

Dr. Kutner recommended a high-quality mask instead of a simple cloth one for those attending Christmas church services.

It was this time last year that Dr. Kutner and other health care workers were receiving their first COVID vaccination.

One year later, we are still talking about the possibility of hospitals reaching capacity.

"Now that we’re seeing increasing positivity rates across the state, then we would expect to see more people continue to be infected for about another week or so, and then hospitalizations, we’re looking ahead to probably the second week in January at this point," said Dr. Kutner.

She said people who are not vaccinated or have not yet had their booster shots are more susceptible to getting infected.

"If you’ve been around a lot of people or you have been traveling or are concerned that you had an exposure, the testing window is about 5-to-7 days after that exposure," said Dr. Kutner. "Once somebody is positive, usually if they’re going to become sick enough to require hospitalization, that’s another week-to-10 days later."

That is why as positivity rates increase in the state, hospitalizations may start to increase as well two weeks later.

Will this become a Christmas tradition? To be discussing testing and safety protocols for COVID?

"Boy, I hope not. I hope by next year that COVID is one of the many things that we see and treat and that it is not dominating what we are focusing on, either in our private lives, or for those of us in healthcare," said Dr. Kutner. "By next year I hope that we are talking about sports or skiing or something else."

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