Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the latest airport to join others in offering on-site Covid-19 testing for travelers. This works in theory as testing travelers on the same day of travel will help prevent those who are positive with Covid-19 (symptomatic or not) from traveling and infecting others at the airport, on the airplane and at their destination. And before you start yelling at me; no, I do not think this idea is completely foolproof in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by any means. I understand its limitations but in the big scheme of things, I do believe it’s the best solution we have towards “getting back to normal.” Simply telling another person to not travel is not the answer and neither is a mandatory quarantine upon arrival. It’s just not feasible for travelers who need to travel.
So on one hand, I do applaud the airlines and airports for making rapid and reliable testing available on-site to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 but on the other hand, I am critical of them because the tests have to be administered correctly and effectively. And unfortunately, in this case, LAX is missing one key element in administering them effectively. Here’s why.
Earlier this week, LAX started offering on-site Covid-19 testing for all travelers. No appointments are necessary and testing is available at three different locations throughout the airport; Terminal 2, TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal), and Terminal 6. These on-site testing locations are open seven days a week between the hours of 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Only one type of test is offered at this time, a nasal-swab PCR test. This test is the most reliable and accurate for detecting Covid-19 but at a cost of $150 per person, it’s also very expensive and will be cost-prohibitive for the majority of travelers. And no, your insurance will most likely not cover it.
The cost sounds a little ridiculous but here’s the bigger problem – the results won’t be available for 24 HOURS! This turn-around time is unacceptable and totally defeats the purpose of doing a same-day-of-travel Covid-19 test. Sure, the majority of people will test negative for Covid-19 and this won’t be an issue but for the small percentage of people who will test positive, they will continue to roam around the airport, sit in a crowded airplane, and travel to their destination, infecting others for a full day before getting their results back. This is just a terrible idea and I have no idea why they are even doing this.
Not to mention that unless you’re traveling somewhere far away, you will most likely arrive at your destination within 24 hours and with no proof of a negative Covid-19 test, you will either not be allowed to enter or be forced into a mandatory quarantine until your results come back. But let’s just be realistic here for a second. If you did have Covid-19 and didn’t know, wouldn’t you want to know before you got on an airplane? Wouldn’t you rather seek medical care and quarantine yourself at home than at some government-contracted hotel? Of course, you would. I would and I know everyone would else would too.
I really do think that, other than a vaccine, testing before travel is the best way for us to get back to normal, while still doing what we can to reduce the spread of Covid-19. But it has to be administered properly and effectively. The tests need to be made readily available and affordable and the results need to be accurate and timely. If people have to work too hard to find an available testing location, they won’t do it. If they can’t afford it, they won’t do it. And if the results are not accurate and timely, they won’t do any good.
What are your thoughts regarding this? Please share them with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!