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Couldn't test before a holiday gathering? Local health expert offers some tips to stay safe

The University at Buffalo's Dr. Nancy Nielsen offers a few tips to keep in mind while visiting loved ones this holiday season.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The holiday weekend starts Friday, and with many people planning to gather with loved ones, local experts are advising people to be cautious.

In order to do that, many people have been in search of at-home COVID-19 test kits, which are in short supply.

2 On Your Side called five locally owned pharmacies; all of them said they were sold out of the kits.

"I think you have heard it recommended by a number of national speakers, and that's created much more of a demand. Unfortunately the U.S. has lagged behind in availability of these tests, so you're right, they are in short supply," according to Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the University at Buffalo's senior associate dean for health policy.

In terms of the availability, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced this week that 27 million home testing kits have been ordered to distribute statewide. She also announced the state will create an online portal to order these test kits in the future.

However, if you were not able to snag a test before your holiday gathering, Dr. Nielsen gave us some tips on how to stay safe this holiday weekend.

1. Know who you will be gathering with.

"Just be conscious of the people who are either very vulnerable because of their age, have an underlying condition, or they're not vaccinated," she said.

2. Wear a mask, but make it fun.

"Make a joke of it, decorate it, make it look like Christmas. Just take a surgical mask and put some stuff on the outside and make it look festive," she said.

3. If you have any symptoms, stay home.

"Obviously anyone with symptoms, this is so important, anybody with symptoms, first of all, stay home and Zoom with everybody in your family and order a meal in. There are ways to do this," Dr. Nielsen said.


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