TAMPA, FL — Tampa International Airport will soon offer coronavirus testing for arriving and departing passengers, announced airport officials Monday morning.
TPA is the first airport in the country to do so.
TPA is partnering with BayCare Health System to provide the tests. There will be two types of FDA-approved tests offered – the swab and rapid antigen. 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.
“We think this is going to be a very successful trial,” said the TPA CEO Joe Lopano. “This is just a test but if it’s successful, and we think it will be, we’ll continue it and we’ll grow it and we’ll build it into something more.”
The testing is voluntary.
As part of an initial trial period, according to TPA, tests will be administered from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 in the main terminal. They will be offered seven days a week on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.
All ticketed passengers who are flying, or can prove they’ve flown within the prior three days, are eligible.
The testing site, located inside the Main Terminal near the Airside F shuttle, will offer both the rapid antigen test and Polymerase Chain Reaction 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.
The PCR COVID-19 test costs $125 and the antigen test costs $57.
“We’re going to build confidence on behalf of the traveling public by giving them an opportunity to have a test done right here at the airport before they get on a flight,” Lopano said. “This is the only airport in the whole country that is doing these tests. We hope others will follow. Testing is the key to getting people back to travel.”
The testing will be offered in the main terminal on a walk-in basis starting Oct. 1.
“I believe this is going to allow people to travel to see loved ones,” said Baycare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nishant Anand. “It’s going to allow other passengers to feel safe if they’re traveling. It’s going to allow them to know that people around them have had some sort of screening test done.”
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.