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Starting on October 15, United Airlines will offer a COVID-19 testing program for passengers. This makes United the first airlines to provide the service. Passengers will be given the option of ordering an at-home testing kit or to reserve a time for a rapid test at the airport.
The catch to this story is that for now, only passengers from San Francisco flying to Hawaii will have access to this new option. The reason that the Hawaii destination was chosen is that the State of Hawaii has largely been closed to tourists since March. If tourists did come, they were automatically subjected to a two-week quarantine. Next month, with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival, Hawaii will waive its two-week quarantine. Hawaii officials will verify those results as flights come in.
“We really see this as a great opportunity to provide access to testing for our customers, to get them back in the air and traveling as safely as possible,” Aaron McMillan, United’s managing director of operations policy and support, told CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
Customers will have to pay for the testing. Rapid testing is already available at San Francisco International Airport for airline staff and airport employees. The test takes about 20 minutes from arrival to the result and will cost $250. The home test option is less expensive but the results take longer. The test kit costs $80 plus shipping. The test goes to a San Francisco lab for processing. Customers will have results within 48 hours.
“Being able to identify a positive case and pull them out of a public health situation and put them in isolation, and then be able to kind of winnow that group of potential infectious individuals is really what’s going to have an impact,” said Caroline Savello, the chief commercial officer of Color, a company offering COVID-19 testing.
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