HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Millions of Texans spent the Christmas holidays with their families. Those gatherings could be spreader events for the omicron variant.

In anticipation of a post-holiday spike in COVID cases, President Joe Biden announced that 500 million COVID tests would be distributed across the country.

As more is learned about the omicron variant, it’s becoming clear that it is more contagious than the delta variant.

On top of that, Hidalgo County health authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said realizing you have COVID is becoming more difficult.

“Majority of people don’t even have symptoms at all,” Melendez said. “So, symptoms is probably the last thing they should rely on unless, of course, it’s positive symptoms. And right now, I think the biggest issue people are having is ‘is it allergies or is it an infection.”

Following a holiday that saw so many travels, Melendez said even people who are asymptomatic should get tested regularly to avoid accidentally spreading COVID. Especially before going to certain “high risk” events, such as “concerts, travel, family meetings, vacationing”.

Testing asymptomatic people may seem like overkill, but it will help identify people who do have COVID but don’t know it and stop them from spreading the disease even more.

Already some places are seeing longer lines for COVID PCR testing. Besides PCR testing there is also the option of at-home antigen tests. At-home antigen tests are pretty straightforward to do yourself and fairly accurate.

“For the most part, only about 85% effective if you have a false negative or a negative. If you have a positive, it’s only one out of 100 that is a false positive,” explained Melendez.

PCR tests are the gold standard for detecting COVID, but they take longer to get results back because they are sent to a lab. More testing means longer wait times for results.

While waiting for PCR test results, Melendez said people should do the antigen tests if they’re concerned. Stock for those tests can vary between stores but there is no shortage of at-home tests available in local pharmacies.