Beginning in October, Tampa International Airport will be the first in the U.S. to offer walk-up COVID-19 testing, airport officials said this week. The airport will offer two types of tests, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and the rapid antigen test designed to detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. Travelers will be on the hook for the cost of tests, which are $125 for the PCR and $57 for antigen test.
While the antigen test returns results in 15 minutes, it’s not considered as reliably accurate as the PCR test, which requires 48 hours to complete. The testing site is located inside Tampa’s main terminal near the Airside F shuttle and it will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week. For now, the service is a pilot program offered by Baycare, a major hospital system in Florida. The pilot program will run through Oct. 31.
Tampa Airport officials said many countries around the world are requiring travelers to provide a negative PCR test result to avoid quarantine or other restrictions upon arrival. They said passengers contemplating travel to those areas should take the test three days before departure in order to get results in time for their trips. “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.
Find out more about Tampa’s COVID testing here.