Tampa Airport launches COVID-19 testing pilot programme

Two types of COVID-19 tests are being trialled for passengers at Tampa Airport – both the rapid antigen test and the PCR nasal swab test.

Tampa Airport launches COVID-19 testing pilot programme

Tampa International Airport (TPA), in partnership with BayCare Health System, has announced the launch of the first airport testing pilot in the U.S. that will offer two types of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 tests for all departing and arriving passengers.

The testing site, located inside the Main Terminal near the Airside F shuttle, will offer both the rapid antigen test and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. PCR nasal swab test results are the most accurate and broadly accepted internationally. Interested travellers will be able to purchase either test regardless of which airline they’re booked on, their gate location or destination.

Testing services will be offered on a walk-in basis from 1 October to 31 October 2020, seven days a week, from 8:00 until 14:00. The pilot will be open to all ticketed passengers who are flying or have flown within three days and can show proof of travel. The PCR COVID-19 test costs $125 and the antigen test costs $57.

At many destinations around the world, government health agencies are requiring travellers to provide a negative PCR test result to avoid quarantine or other restrictions upon arrival. Passengers departing from Tampa Airport to states, countries or territories requiring negative PCR tests are advised to take the test three days before departure and can expect results within 48 hours.

The antigen test, which produces results in 15 minutes and is most accurate within five days of the onset of symptoms, offers an added layer of same-day reassurance for travellers arriving at or departing from Tampa Airport.

CEO of Tampa International Airport, Joe Lopano, said: “As a gateway to the West Coast of Florida with a growing market for international travel, Tampa International Airport has a responsibility to explore safe, rapid and affordable ways to keep our travellers, their destinations and our community as safe and healthy as possible. We’re thankful to our partners at BayCare in helping us create a pilot programme that gives us a step in the right direction, as well as providing a valuable service to our passengers.”

As one of the leading health care systems in West Central Florida, BayCare was one of the first in the region to provide testing access to the community early in the pandemic. BayCare launched drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in March 2020 across the region, in addition to testing in its hospital facilities. Since then, BayCare has tested more than 210,000 people for COVID-19.

Nishant Anand, Managing Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at BayCare Health System, said: “We’re proud to continue to work with local partners like TPA to expand access to COVID-19 testing. We believe testing plays a crucial role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing travellers for the virus could help mitigate any potential spread in airports and planes.”

The Tampa Airport site is one of four testing locations that BayCare is helping run across the Tampa Bay area. The health system will bring to the airport the same level of expertise, high quality care, testing accuracy and patient privacy as its other sites.  

Chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority – which oversees Tampa Airport – Gary Harrod, said: “Tampa International Airport has been a leader of airport health protocols since the earliest signs of the pandemic and was one of the first in the country to mandate masks, install plastic shields and apply social distancing markers through its TPA Ready launch in April 2020. These innovative efforts go a long way in building traveller confidence and keeping our region safe as we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”  

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