Health officials: Getting a COVID-19 test before Thanksgiving doesn't give you a 'free pass'

A sign guiding the way to a COVID-19 testing site in Minnesota. (FOX 9)

Families that are shifting their Thanksgiving plans to fit the pandemic may be considering getting tested for COVID-19 before gathering. However, state health officials say getting tested does not give you a "free pass."

"That doesn't take away all of the other risks that we know are there," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Thursday. "Unless every single person is not only tested, but has quarantined from the time they get tested until the time they gather--that risk is still there."

In recent weeks, there has been a surge of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Minnesota, with Thursday marking a new single-day record of 72 deaths. In response, Gov. Tim Walz unveiled his new order, putting a four-week pause on youth sports, gyms, dining in at restaurants and more. The order also prohibits social gatherings involving more than one household.

Malcolm encourages people to get tested, especially those in the 18 to 35-year-old age group, which accounts for the majority of the state's cases. She says increased testing in that age group would identify mild or asymptomatic cases and help reduce possible spread.