'Now is not the time to mingle': UNC lab director talks Thanksgiving gathering dos and don'ts amid COVID-19 surge

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Experts say now is not the time to mingle with people outside of your home.

"Just remain with their close household and given the big surge we've been in, now is not the time to be mingling," said Dr. Melissa Miller, director of the clinical microbiology lab at UNC Hospitals.

Eight months ago Monday, Dr. Miller rolled out the first coronavirus test at UNC Hospitals and she said while they're at a better place testing wise, there are still issues with the supply chain.

"I feel like we're rearranging the chairs on the Titanic," she said. "We keep trying to straighten things up. We keep trying to get testing to higher levels and to be consistent but there's this slow sinking feeling of the supply chain that continues."

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Dr Miller cautioned people about getting together with people outside their immediate household for Thanksgiving. She said a negative COVID-19 test also doesn't mean people can do what they want when seeing family members.

"So you know you're negative at that time and it depends what kind of test you get and how good it is but you don't know if you're positive between when you get the test and you get to wherever you're going for Thanksgiving and people tend to use that as an 'Oh I'm negative,'" Dr. Miller said.

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Miller insists people should follow mitigation practices like masking, distancing and being outdoors for the holidays and at all times.

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Dr. Melissa Miller insists people should follow mitigation practices like masking, distancing and being outdoors for the holidays and at all times.


Dr. Miller also said the data shows the uptick in case numbers hasn't come from mass gatherings or even some of the protests in downtown Raleigh but instead from friends gathering with other friends and letting go of those mitigation factors.

"People are going to be dining together, they're going to be in close quarters, most of them will be indoors," she said. "Even outdoors it's hard to space."

Eating inside at a restaurant is also not advisable.

"Even if you're outside, wear your mask as much as you can," she said. "We have a tendency to say 'Oh we're outside, we're six feet apart and we're comfortable.'"

The most recent expansion in testing at UNC has been in testing for the flu.
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