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These U.S. Airports Are Getting COVID-19 Testing Facilities

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San Francisco International Airport has rapid coronavirus testing available for employees that could eventually be extended to passengers.

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San Francisco International Airport has rapid coronavirus testing available for employees that could eventually be extended to passengers.

SFO recently began offering on-site coronavirus testing to employees, and testing facilities for passengers are in the pipeline for JFK and LaGuardia, too.

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San Francisco International Airport (SFO) employees can now get a rapid-result COVID-19 test at a new airport facility located at the International Terminal. Results are ready in less than an hour.

SFO has partnered with Dignity Health–GoHealth Urgent Care to provide employee testing both on-site and at nearby Dignity Health locations. The program launched with the testing of airline flight crews in late July. 

As for when and whether passengers might have access to the testing, a SFO spokesperson told AFAR: “We have yet to make a decision about expanding this to passengers, but we hope the lessons learned from the current process will help inform that decision.”

The dedicated COVID-19 testing area at SFO is located just outside the terminal and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Employees can reserve a spot in advance online via the GoHealth Urgent Care site (they should receive a link from their employer). 

Dignity Health already has a more than 20-year relationship with SFO through its St. Mary’s SFO Medical Clinic, which provides medical care to travelers and employees at the airport. 

SFO employees can reserve a COVID-19 test online.

Not long after SFO installed its new testing site for employees came the news that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans on developing COVID-19 testing sites at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York—but specifically for passengers.

“How do you make sure you’re not getting infected from people coming in from other states?” Cuomo said during an August 24 press conference where he briefly discussed the plans. 

“We’re actually setting up testing sites at our airports to be able to do faster testing of people coming in.”

The testing sites are being set up by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in conjunction with NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the city’s public hospitals and clinics. Cuomo did not specify when the testing facilities would be up and running.

As of September 2, travelers coming from 33 states and territories must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival into New York (or potentially face massive fines). Cuomo did not say how and whether the testing facilities would offer travelers an alternative to the quarantine requirement. As for international arrivals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevenion (CDC) no longer has a quarantine requirement in place for travelers returning from abroad. It was not clear whether the testing could eventually be used to screen international travelers.

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Airports in Alaska also offer coronavirus testing as part of that state’s entry requirements. In order to forgo an otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement, travelers can provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result for a test that was taken within 72 hours before their arrival, or they can take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Alaska. (They have to self-quarantine until the results are ready.) The testing is free for Alaska residents, but nonresidents have to pay $250 for a test at the airport. There are testing facilities at Juneau International Airport, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and Ketchikan Airport. 

International airports with COVID testing facilities

Once testing capabilities for passengers are up and running in New York and possibly San Francisco, they will join the ranks of several other international hubs that have instituted COVID-19 testing. Germany’s Berlin-Tegel Airport and Frankfurt Airport both have testing facilities set up, Reuters reports.

Hong Kong Airport provides testing to travelers coming from what the government deems as high-risk destinations (as of September 2, the United States was on the list), and those travelers must quarantine for 14 days in addition to submitting to the test. 

Japan’s Haneda, Narita, and Kansai Airports have integrated rapid results coronavirus testing into their passenger arrival procedures as well. Japan currently has an inbound travel ban on travelers coming from numerous countries throughout the world. (As of August 30, there were 159 countries on the list, including the United States.) 

>> Next: Where Can Americans Travel Right Now?

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