MILL VALLEY, Calif. - As New Year’s Eve events get canceled amid the omicron variant surge, there’s one house party in Marin County that is still on, as long as all guests show up to get a negative COVID-19 PCR test hours before the party begins.
Andrew Angus and his family decided to go ahead with the party at their Mill Valley home and sent invites to guests who are vaccinated, boosted and agree to sign up for a testing slot.
"You never know how people will react," Angus said. "I’ve gotten so many positive responses."
Angus got a PCR testing machine months ago and had boxes of tests costing about $75 each ready to go. Each party-goer is scheduled to show up at their home to take a test before they’re allowed to come to the party.
Unlike rapid antigen tests available at pharmacies, a PCR test is considered more accurate and can detect the genetic material of COVID-19 at the very start of infection.
With Angus’ processing machine, a swab is used in each nostril and then placed inside a cartridge. Within 20 or so minutes, Angus said the results are uploaded to an application in his smartphone.
Upon receiving the negative test, there are more ground rules to come to the Angus’ to ring in 2022.
"They’re not allowed to go to the grocery story, to go meet other people," Angus said. "We kind of lock things down at that point and create a safe of a bubble as we can."
Because data shows that Marin County has had at least five days of record-setting cases, mostly among the unvaccinated.
Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis suggests everyone should avoid large gatherings altogether this New Year’s Eve.
"It will fuel more cases and there will be more infections," he said. "We are definitely recommending people test immediately before entering a space where others are gathered."
Willis said there cannot be a reliance on symptoms or vaccination status to know if you’re infected, which could potentially putting others at risk.
For Angus, who has two children who can’t be vaccinated and two other kids who can’t be boosted, he believes they’re being as safe as possible to protect against the coronavirus.
"I think in showing that we’re doing it responsibly, that helps my community understand that this is important to us," Angus said. "This is one thing we can do and hopefully it has some impact."