If the U.S. authorities had accomplished a greater job making fast Covid-19 exams obtainable, the recommendation for easy methods to use them this vacation weekend could be straightforward: Take one initially of on daily basis while you deliberate to spend time with individuals exterior your family.

That strategy is feasible in different international locations. In Britain, pharmacies provide free packs of seven exams that individuals can take at dwelling. In Germany, fast exams are additionally broadly obtainable and principally free. On this nation, the scenario is completely different, largely as a result of the F.D.A. has been slow to approve the tests.

The Biden administration has not been as aggressive in fixing the scenario because it might have been, but it surely has made progress. A few months in the past, exams had been typically not possible to search out. Now, they’re sporadically available at many stores. Family and friends across the nation have informed me this week that they’ve normally been capable of finding a take a look at after trying in sufficient locations.

The exams should not free, nonetheless. They usually value about $25 for a pack of two. The mix of their value and irregular availability implies that Individuals excited by fast exams typically should make decisions about when to make use of them.

Immediately’s e-newsletter affords a information for doing so, particularly as a strategy to defend older individuals — who stay probably the most weak to severe Covid sickness — throughout Thanksgiving weekend.

“Speedy exams may also help scale back worries about gathering with family members for the vacations,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins College, informed me. Nuzzo’s quick household plans to take exams on Thanksgiving, earlier than going over to their hosts for the meal. So do I.

The Covid exams that you just soak up a health care provider’s workplace or testing heart are normally PCR exams, that are designed to establish whether or not you may have any quantity of the Covid virus. They will generally come again constructive even for those who had the virus weeks earlier and haven’t been infectious for a very long time.

The fast exams — also called antigen exams — are designed to inform whether or not you might be infectious. That’s why they’re such a strong public-health software. They will forestall any person with the virus from spreading it to others.

“For too lengthy, individuals considered testing as an additional and never the core, and it must be regarded as the core,” Mara Aspinall, a professor at Arizona State College and former biotechnology govt, told Kaiser Health News.

Essentially the most broadly obtainable antigen take a look at appears to be BinaxNOW, from Abbott. You must also really feel comfy utilizing QuickVue, Ellume and Flowflex, amongst others. In the event you seek for one in all these exams on-line and a web site factors you to a distinct model, perform some research. Others will be very costly.

Each CVS and Walgreens have search engines like google and yahoo that allow you to discover exams on the market close to you. I like to recommend calling the shop to substantiate it nonetheless has them in inventory — after which instantly going to purchase it. A retailer could restrict you to purchasing one take a look at pack at a time.

Some individuals discover the exams straightforward to conduct. Others have informed me that the method is difficult — extra so, for instance, than taking a house being pregnant take a look at. Both method, put aside time to learn the instructions and watch the how-to video.

“It’s critically necessary that you just rigorously learn any directions for the kind of take a look at you’re taking, and observe them to the letter,” Dr. Karl Laskowski, who helps oversee Covid testing at Brigham and Ladies’s Hospital, told Julia Taliesin of Boston.com.

You’ll normally get a consequence inside quarter-hour. Remember that each false negatives and false positives are potential. Antigen exams usually establish 98 p.c of infectious circumstances, in keeping with Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard College epidemiologist.

In the event you get a constructive consequence, take it significantly, and quarantine your self till you understand extra. Ideally, you’ll attempt to affirm the consequence with a PCR take a look at or a second fast take a look at — from a distinct model, my colleague Tara Parker-Pope says. If the second is damaging and you might be vaccinated, you possibly can most likely belief the damaging.

As a result of most Individuals have restricted entry to fast exams, they should triage their use. The 2 most necessary occasions to take a take a look at are both after you’ll have been uncovered to the virus or earlier than you might be spending time with medically weak individuals, like these of their 70s or older.

“I attempt to inform individuals it’s a snapshot good for in the future solely,” Tara informed me. “And that you have to preserve testing for those who suppose you had been uncovered to Covid or when you have been touring by airports or on trains.”

In case you are attending a number of gatherings this weekend and would not have sufficient exams, focus your testing on the times if you end up seeing anyone weak. For most individuals, the vaccines have turned Covid right into a manageable illness — one that’s extremely unlikely to result in extreme sickness and never so completely different from different respiratory sicknesses. However for a lot of older individuals, Covid stays a significant risk.

Many Individuals proceed to exaggerate the risk that Covid presents to kids and understate its risk to aged individuals. They deserve our focus.

Not everyone in your family has the identical probability of Covid publicity. With a restricted variety of exams obtainable, it might make sense to concentrate on individuals who have the best probability of getting been contaminated — and, by extension, infecting others.

Nuzzo suggests prioritizing two teams for fast testing: people who find themselves not absolutely vaccinated, like kids; and those that have spent extra time in settings the place they may have been uncovered.

Even with the constraints of fast testing within the U.S., the exams can play an necessary position in slowing the unfold of the virus. And the scenario does appear to be bettering. The F.D.A. approved three more tests this week, and the Biden administration continues to spend extra to increase their availability.

By Christmas and New Yr, exams must be simpler to search out than they’re this week.

Associated: See the place circumstances and hospitalizations are surging in the U.S.

It’s that point of yr: Grammy nominations. The sixty fourth annual awards present can be held in Los Angeles in January.

First, a shock: Jon Batiste, a composer who can be the musical director on “The Late Present With Stephen Colbert,” scored the most nominations — 11. Justin Bieber, Doja Cat and H.E.R. adopted with eight apiece, whereas the pop stars Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo earned seven. “It’s a reminder that the presumed and precise audiences for the awards present and the community each skew previous,” the music critic Jon Caramanica writes. “Maybe solely on this echo chamber, Batiste qualifies as a pop star.”

One other twist: Abba scored its first Grammy nomination, for the group’s comeback single “I Nonetheless Have Religion in You.” “That’s clearly one of many Grammys’ better-late-than-never nominations,” the music critic Jon Pareles wrote.

The ceremony has additionally overhauled its nomination process — for years, artists, together with Jay-Z and the Weeknd, have slammed the Grammys for passing over Black artists in high classes. “The impact appears much less dramatic than many anticipated,” Ben Sisario writes. “This yr, the distribution of Grammy nods has adopted a well-known sample of blending pop superstars with heroes of the previous guard.”

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was fixated. Right here is in the present day’s puzzle — or you possibly can play online.