City, Coronavirus, News

Logan Airport to offer COVID-19 testing

Boston Logan International Airport will offer pre-security COVID-19 testing in Terminal E starting November.

Starting in November, Boston Logan International Airport will offer COVID-19 testing in Terminal E. CHLOE GRINBERG/ DFP FILE

Airport health and wellness company XpresSpa announced Oct. 9 it is constructing a testing facility with an anticipated capacity of 400 COVID-19 tests per day. 

Located before security in the international arrivals terminal, the new XpresCheck location will offer the rapid molecular coronavirus test, polymerase chain reaction test and blood antibody test. 

XpresSpa currently has two airport testing locations, one at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City and the other at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. 

The company’s CEO, Doug Satzman, said making testing available at airports will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within U.S. borders.

“The rest of the world comes from airports,” Satzman said. “So to have an active testing infrastructure, with us or with others, at all of our ports of entry is very important for protecting the country.”

He said he hopes testing will make travelers and employees more comfortable returning to the airport.

“Because we are an airport travel-oriented business, we’re trying to help pilots, [Transportation Security Administration] agents and baggage handlers return to work and feel safe,” Satzman said. “And there’s lower risk, which COVID testing can help do.”

The PCR and blood antibody tests will cost $75 and can be covered by insurance, Satzman said. Patients would pay for the $200 rapid molecular test out of pocket, with the option to contact their insurance later for reimbursement. 

Airport and airline employees will receive a 20-percent discount on the rapid test “as a courtesy to the men and women who are serving the public,” Satzman said.

Satzman also said the company wants to add testing locations at airports around the country.

“The leadership in Boston has been very progressive,” he said. “Part of the reason it’s gone so quick is because they’ve been so good to partner with.” 

Because Massachusetts has mandated quarantine periods for a majority of travelers, Satzman said Boston is an ideal city to introduce this immediate testing to.

Pre-departure testing may help expand domestic and international travel during the pandemic, according to a federal report.

Regina LaRocque, infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, said cost may be a barrier for some travelers.

“The downside of having private businesses involved in the testing process is that it is not offered equitably to all members of our society,” LaRocque said. “It isn’t targeted at the people who are most at risk, so it’s not part of a comprehensive public health strategy.”  

Douglas Kidd, executive director of the National Association of Airline Passengers, wrote in an email many airlines have taken precautions beyond testing.

“We commend Delta and other airlines that have blocked the middle seat from being used,” Kidd wrote. “This is perhaps the one most important step that has been taken to date to stop the spread of the disease.” 

As the government and companies enact safety measures, some travelers may still have concerns, Kidd wrote.

“My family wants me to stay at a hotel and get a negative covid test before I go home,” Kidd wrote. “I’ve heard that others are getting similar treatment by their families.”

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