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This is how you can be sure you don't spread COVID-19 this holiday season

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steven Lawrence says you should test as close to the time people are getting together as possible.

ST. LOUIS — The Northwoods NAACP St. Louis County office had more than 100 people show up to get a COVID-19 test during a pop-up clinic this week.

"I was exposed to somebody who had COVID and I needed to get proof of being clean for my job," Samuel Franzen said.

"I'll be going to another state for a couple of days, just wanted to be on the safe side on the precautions. I'll be traveling with my mom to go see some family members," Terrance Holmes said.

NAACP St. Louis County President John Bowman teamed up with the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Center and Quantum Labs to offer PCR and rapid testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We've had tremendous turnout, a lot people making sure they're taking care of themselves and their families for the holidays," Bowman said.

"At any given time, with the seriousness of this pandemic, I just felt this was the safest thing to do," Holmes said.

"Three out of every four cases in the United States is caused by the Omicron variant," Dr. Steven Lawrence, a Washington University Infectious Disease Specialist at Barnes Jewish Hospital said.

Lawrence said testing is one step to keep yourself safe.

"For a test to be most effective, it needs to be done as close to the time that people are getting together as possible, because the situation can change," Lawrence said.

Negative rapid test results are a good sign, but may not always be able to detect the virus in its beginning stages.

"The test will catch some of those early infections but not all of them. It's not 100% guarantee that you don't have infection at the time, so you still need to take into account other measures," Lawrence said.

That includes social distancing, washing your hands, getting vaccinated and your booster shots, and of course, masking.

"One of the safest things we can do is mask indoors with other people who we don't live with," Lawrence said.

You can get results from rapid testing in 15 minutes.

The staff at the pop up clinic will give results for people who took the PCR tests by tonight.

The Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers are still offering free vaccines and tests Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers website.

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