Airports and airlines are rushing to offer preflight Covid-19 testing to help passengers avoid 14-day quarantines imposed by certain states and many foreign governments. The goal: to build confidence in travel.
Hawaiian Airlines has started offering passengers a $150 at-home saliva test ahead of flights. Passengers self-collect while being watched on a video call and ship the tests overnight.
Passenger testing is seen as a way to limit the spread of Covid-19, but it won’t eliminate it. Several Caribbean islands began accepting visitors who had a negative test within 72 hours of arrival, and the number of Covid-19 cases has jumped.
The fundamental problem is that someone could get infected after taking the test, and that testing isn’t always accurate. Also, the virus may take several days to show up on a test. It appears that a plan emphasizing testing proved imperfect at the White House.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a physician who has suffered a mild case of Covid-19, says it’s a necessary risk to help workers and businesses survive.
“We cannot put our head in the sand and wait until March or April or May until a vaccine has significantly decreased risk,” he says. “This is the safest you can do and have any hope of restoring economic activity.”