Tampa International Airport becomes first U.S. airport to offer COVID-19 tests for passengers
On Tuesday, airport officials launched a pilot program that offers testing for all passengers who want a test. TPA partnered with BayCare Health System for a 30-day trial period, becoming the first U.S. airport to offer testing for all passengers no matter their airline or destination.
“COVID’s not going away any time soon and because of that we have to figure out how to adapt our lives to be safe,” said Dr. Nishant Anand, the chief medical officer at BayCare.
Travelers can find the testing area in the main terminal near Airside E and F and walk up without an appointment. After checking in, a nurse will take you to a private room for a nasal swab. Then depending on the test, passengers get a result in 15 minutes or two days.
The airport offers the 15-minute rapid antigen test for $57 and the PCR test for $125, which is considered more accurate and delivers results within 48 hours. Passengers must pay with a credit card and show proof of travel.
Airport leaders said travelers can get tested within three days before or after their flight.
“People just need more knowledge. If they know that they’re positive, they won’t go on the plane. If they know they’re negative, they’re going to go see their friends, their loved ones and say, ‘I’m good,’” said Joe Lopano, the Tampa International Airport CEO.
Travel leaders said they hope the option will help restore some confidence in travel safety. Lopano said there will be 150 tests available per day for passengers, but they can adjust for demand.
“We’re scalable. We’re flexible. We’ll see how it goes. But we think this will be something that other airports around the country will adopt as well,” said Lopano.
The testing area will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Airport workers said the process will take about 20 to 30 minutes, so they recommend arriving early before a flight.