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August 2020

Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, MD

Negative COVID-19 Tests are Not a License to Party

The Westchester County Department of Health cautions parents that negative Covid tests should not be used as a license for young people to party or break social distancing rules during a pandemic.

 

Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, MD, said: “You can have a negative Covid test today, but can still be incubating and spreading Covid tomorrow. Getting Covid-tested to attend a party is a bad idea because it can lead to a lack of social distancing and mask wearing. This poses a risk to you, your children and everyone around them.”

 

Recent graduation parties or get-togethers where social distancing was not observed led to localized upticks in Covid cases, so the Department reminds families to remain vigilant.

 

Some rapid Covid tests have a high rate of false negatives that ranges from 20 percent to 45 percent. This means that with some testing kits, nearly half the people who test negative may actually have Covid, but will be told on the basis of the test that they are not infected. Even the standard nasal swab test, known as a PCR test, can produce a false negative if the test is performed during the early phase of infection. These individuals may then go on to spread Covid to others in the community.

 

Amler said: “We must all keep doing our part by following mask and social distancing guidelines. If we don’t, we could see another spike in Covid cases, more sickness and death and a return to a stay at home order.”

 

New York State guidelines for Phase 4 mandate no more than 50 people can gather outdoors. Anyone over age two must wear a face covering in public when they are within six feet of others or are in a setting where they cannot maintain six feet of distance from others.

 

To report a social gathering in Westchester that violates Phase 4 guidelines, you can contact your local police department or the Westchester County Department of Health at 914-813-5000.

 

To report a violation of Phase 4 guidelines at a local business visit:

https://mylicense.custhelp.com/app/ask