With several other countries and airports having opened rapid COVID-19 testing centers, the U.S. has lagged behind in terms of this capability. Way behind. Testing in most cases takes days, at a minimum. This has been problematic for people looking to travel internationally, as some countries require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Often, you can’t even get the test results before they are no longer good for entry.

Hopefully this is changing. San Francisco International Airport is now the first U.S. airport to offer rapid COVID testing.

SFO Rapid COVID Testing

Through a partnership with Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, SFO is offering rapid daily COVID-19 testing for airline crews and airport workers. The testing center is located in the International Terminal. Results are available in as little as 15 minutes using a small machine. Given the timeline for most other testing that takes 3-7 days, this is incredible.

The SFO rapid COVID testing is the first of its kind for a U.S. airport. Anchorage Airport offers COVID testing, but it still takes days to get the results. Alaska is a state that requires travelers to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of travel, and this is still difficult to obtain. It is only rapid testing that will make travel possible without the required 14-day quarantine.

SFO rapid COVID testing

SFO International Terminal

Currently, the SFO rapid COVID testing is not available to passengers. The hope is to get the testing working well for airline and airport employees before potentially expanding it to travelers.

Final Thoughts

Rapid testing is one of the main things I see as effective for helping alleviate virus fears and to get travel back on track. While I personally don’t see air travel as all that risky, being able to test passengers and have results available within minutes would be ideal. Yes, this amounts to an intense effort, and being able to scale this up to mass testing is obviously a major hurdle.

Still, as some countries continue to require proof of negative testing for entry, rapid testing is the answer to this problem. I hope that the SFO rapid COVID testing expands to passengers as well. It would be amazing if other airports are able to put the same technology and system in place.