Q: We are thinking ahead to the holidays to try to plan a safer way to get together. Through the pandemic, none of us has socialized inside, and we have all taken the recommendations for distancing, mask wearing and frequent testing very seriously. Our plan: All nine of us work and attend school from home. The week of Thanksgiving, we get tested on say, Monday, then stay home until the holiday, when we will gather (assuming all tests are negative, of course). One concern is the possibility of a false-negative result. What are the rates for false negatives for the Market Place and the University of Illinois tests? Are there other things we are overlooking? Flaws in the plan?
A: The current false-negative rate with the nasal swab RT-PCR tests, like those done at the community-based testing site at Market Place Mall, Carle and Christie, are around 20 percent. The UI saliva test is similar.
The quarantining seems to be a good strategy, assuming everyone does it for at least 14 days.
Quarantining means remaining in your home with no others coming in. For a quarantine to be effective, everyone must adhere to it.