Tampa International Airport, in partnership with BayCare Health System, announced the launch of the country’s first airport testing pilot that will offer two types of 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 travelers 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 Thursday, October 1st to October 31st, seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. 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 travelers to provide a negative PCR test result to avoid quarantine or other restrictions upon arrival. Passengers departing from Tampa 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 travelers arriving at or departing TPA.
“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,” TPA 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.”
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 across the region in addition to testing in its hospital facilities. Since then, BayCare has tested more than 210,000 people for COVID-19.
“We’re proud to continue to work with local partners like TPA to expand access to COVID-19 testing,” said Nishant Anand, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer at BayCare Health System. “We believe testing plays a crucial role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing travelers for the virus could help mitigate any potential spread in airports and planes.”
The TPA site is one of four testing locations BayCare is helping run across the Tampa Bay area. The health system will bring to TPA the same level of expertise, high-quality care, testing accuracy, and patient privacy as its other sites.
“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,” said Gary Harrod, Chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority which oversees TPA. “These innovative efforts go a long way in building traveler confidence and keeping our region safe as we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”
For more information about the TPA COVID-19 pilot testing program, go to https://baycare.org/TPA-Testing.