That Airport Spa? It’s a Coronavirus Testing Clinic


Although the company brought back most of its corporate staff who had been furloughed, including those who worked in construction design and human resources, most of its employees who worked at airports are still furloughed.

To some, the conversion of a business offering chair massages and mani-pedis into a medical testing facility might seem like a stretch.

But, “if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses of all kinds have got to find ways to pivot in order to say alive,” said Scott Mayerowitz, executive editorial director of the travel news site The Points Guy. “If you asked me last year if a series of airport spas where people went to relax and escape the stress of travel would be offering medical services in a year, I would have laughed. But now it feels like a smart business move.”

XpresCheck’s Kennedy Airport clinic can test up to 500 people per day, and since August, Mr. Satzman said, many travelers opted to take both the PCR nasal swab test and the blood antibody test. At Newark Airport, the clinic can test up to 350 people a day. XpresCheck’s clinics charge $75 for one test or $90 for both the antibody and the PCR tests without insurance. The new rapid molecular tests cost $200 and are not covered by insurance.

The Abbott rapid coronavirus test, called the ID NOW, is fast and easy to operate, giving results in just a few minutes, but the test is less accurate than laboratory tests that use a P.C.R. technique. The test has not been cleared by the Federal Drug Administration, but it has been authorized by the agency for emergency use by laboratories and in patient care settings.

Mr. Satzman said that a company like his offering testing is just one part of a larger effort, and in order for tests to be more widely available, airlines, airports and companies need to coordinate.

“We are one piece of this to provide testing in the airport,” he said. “We’ve been on the phone lobbying congressional offices and representatives from the White House, the F.A.A., T.S.A. urging funding for testing in airports,” Mr. Satzman said.



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