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Airport, hospital system team up to test flyers for COVID-19

Tampa International Airport will offer screenings for departing and arriving passengers.

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  • | 10:14 a.m. September 30, 2020
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Courtesy. Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, at podium, announces the airport's new COVID-19 testing program.
Courtesy. Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, at podium, announces the airport's new COVID-19 testing program.
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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TAMPA — In what it says is the first initiative of its kind in the country, Tampa International Airport has launched a program that will provide COVID-19 tests for arriving and departing passengers.

According to a press release, the testing site, located inside TIA’s main terminal near the Airside F shuttle, will be operated by Clearwater-based BayCare Health System, whose staff will administer two FDA-approved tests: the rapid antigen test and the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The latter is regarded as the most accurate and broadly accepted test, internationally. 

The PCR COVID-19 test costs $125 and the antigen test costs $57, the release states. Testing will be offered from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The program begins Oct.1 and ends Oct. 31. 

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

“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 travelers, their destinations and our community as safe and healthy as possible,” TIA CEO Joe Lopano states in the release. “We’re thankful to our partners at BayCare in helping us create a pilot program that gives us a step in the right direction, as well as providing a valuable service to our passengers.”

The testing program is open to all ticketed passengers who are flying or have flown within three days and can show proof of travel, the release states. 

“We believe testing plays a crucial role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Nishant Anand, BayCare’s executive vice president and chief medical officer in the release. “Testing travelers for the virus could help mitigate any potential spread in airports and planes.”


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