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Getting a COVID test before your holiday trip or party? Here's what you need to know

“The most sensitive test is the PCR test. The problem with that is you aren’t going to get the results the same day," Dr. David Persse said.

HOUSTON, Del. — Lines are getting longer outside Houston COVID-19 testing sites. Many say they want to travel for Christmas, while others say they’ve been exposed.

The line outside the University of St. Thomas Tuesday wasn’t for class, it was for COVID testing.

“I just got exposed, get ahead of the curve, try to have a safer holiday with my family," Christian Ochoa said.

Ochoa waited almost an hour to get tested Tuesday. 

“I think everyone knows that cases are rising so they’re just trying to have some peace of mind also," Ochoa said.

 Everyone is trying to get ahead of the virus before the holidays kick in.

The City of Houston testing site is one of dozens offering free COVID tests. Results take 24-48 hours.

But what’s that mean for an event, that's say, Friday?

 “The most sensitive test is the PCR test. The problem with that is you aren’t going to get the results the same day. So you need to go Wednesday or Thursday. So you really need to ask, 'How quickly will I get the results?'" Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse said.

Dr. Persse says if you can get an at-home antigen test, take it a few hours before your event.

He says if it’s negative, you should be okay.

“The shortest amount time between when you test and when you have your gathering, will provide the greatest amount of protection that you don’t accidentally bring the virus to the party," Dr. Persse said.

But remember, antigen tests aren’t always accurate.

“If you’re asymptomatic, and you’re just randomly testing to see somebody, it gives you a false sense of security that you’re okay when in fact you could have the virus. So people forgo the precautions they would normally sort of take," Luis Ostrosky, MD, chief of infectious diseases with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, said.

So Dr. Ostrosky says even if you’re negative, still wear your mask and keep your distance at the event.

He advises to avoid indoor events with a lot of people. 

“Right now, I would tell you not to go. Because I spent the whole weekend dealing with people who went to holiday parties and are testing positive," Dr. Ostrosky said.

WATCH: More stories about COVID-19

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