Throughout the month of October, any passenger traveling to or from Tampa International Airport can be tested for COVID-19, regardless of which airline they are flying.
Testing is open to anyone who plans to fly in the next three days – and even passengers who flew in the past three days – and can show proof of travel.
Passengers can opt for a PCR (nasal swab) test for $125, or an antigen test, which costs $57.
Passengers who need a negative PCR test to enter their destination or bypass a quarantine should schedule their test three days before travel, the airport advised in a Tuesday press release. Results are expected within 48 hours.
Antigen test results produce results within 15 minutes but are most accurate within five days of the onset of symptoms, the airport noted. The FDA has also noted that there is a higher likelihood of a false negative result with an antigen test.
The pilot program's testing site, which is being run by BayCare, is located in the main terminal near the Airside F shuttle. It is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“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,” CEO Joe Lopano said. “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.”
So far, the industry's testing pilot programs have been organized by airlines. On Monday, JetBlue said it would provide at-home saliva test kits for passengers with results available within 72 hours. The airline noted that customers should confirm their destination accepts at-home or saliva-based tests if a negative result is required for entry or skipping quarantine.
Last week, United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines announced they would roll out testing programs for travelers to Hawaii from certain airports by Oct. 15, when Hawaii begins allowing out-of-state visitors to bypass the state's 14-day quarantine requirement by presenting a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel.
Airlines and trade groups have been calling on the federal government to establish a federal testing program and require passengers to wear masks since this summer. All major U.S. airlines now have their own mask policies in place.
United CEO Scott Kirby was one of the signatories of a July 21 letter that called on government officials in the U.S. and European Union to establish a joint COVID-19 testing program to facilitate the return of international air travel, a lucrative sector of the travel economy.
This month, the U.S. Travel Association trade group praised the airlines for helping lead the effort for testing.
“We applaud the U.S. airlines for their efforts to move this issue forward, and we will continue to advocate for greater federal involvement in COVID-19 testing,” Tori Emerson Barnes, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Association, said this month.
"We have long maintained that testing is the key to both safer travel and reopening the economy," Barnes noted. "More rapid, efficient testing allows for a broader reopening of the travel economy, and will enable organizations to more quickly restore lost jobs and rehire workers. Importantly, a robust testing program would allow America to welcome back international visitors, a segment of travel that has effectively disappeared since the start of the pandemic."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tampa airport to offer COVID-19 test to all passengers, PCR or antigen