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Health & Science

'I Feel Fine' May Need To Be Redefined, Says Milwaukee County Doctor Ahead Of Thanksgiving

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Alexandr Milodan
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Adobe Stock
Dr. Weston warned against taking part in large Thanksgiving Day gatherings.

A Milwaukee County doctor closely following the COVID-19 pandemic said Tuesday if you feel fine that doesn't necessarily mean you are fine.

Dr. Ben Weston is with the Medical College of Wisconsin, and is director of medical services for the county's Office of Emergency Management. 

On a media call, Weston warned against taking part in large Thanksgiving Day gatherings and other events that have more than just members of your household — even if you are feeling healthy. He referred to a recent federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that said over half the spread of COVID-19 has been from people without symptoms.

"This may lead to the question of who does not have symptoms, but can still spread COVID-19. And, the answer is every single person with the virus. That is now COVID-19 works,” he said.

Weston offered a typical timeline for getting sick and spreading the disease: "On day one, you're exposed to COVID-19 — could be at the grocery store, at work, at a friend's house. The virus enters your body. On day five, you feel fine but you're worried. So, you get tested and it's negative. There's not yet enough virus in your body to be detected. On day eight, you have a negative test, and say, 'I feel fine,' so you head over to Thanksgiving. You're very contagious and COVID is so easily spread, it's very likely you infect everyone at that gathering.  Two days later, on day ten, your symptoms start to show up. You test positive, and you no longer feel fine."

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Credit University of Pittsburgh
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A timeline of exposure to the coronavirus.

Weston said in case a lot of people don't avoid large gatherings this week and get sick, his office is planning on helping expand COVID-19 testing — especially to neighborhoods without easy access to testing sites. Also, he said he’ll help plan for an adequate number of local hospital beds. 

City of Milwaukee Health Department Interim Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said her office will make sure its case investigators and contact tracers are prepared. "As well as making sure our epidemiology team and our data team are prepared to start looking at data, making sure we can identify hot spots, as well as identify where we can message differently, in regards to testing moving forward,” she said.

What people do over the next few days will determine whether those additional COVID-19 surge plans are put into action.

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Credit City of Milwaukee Health Department
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Milwaukee's health department put together these guidelines for Thanksgiving.

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