COVID-19 tests to be done at Anchorage and Fairbanks airports for critical infrastructure workers

Published: May. 19, 2020 at 1:29 PM AKDT
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COVID-19 testing for select critical infrastructure workers started Monday at both Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and at the Fairbanks International Airport.

At Ted Stevens the tests will be done at the arrival gates, while in Fairbanks tests will be done at Baggage Claim 2.

“We’re scaling up testing across Alaska and offering it to critical infrastructure workers where it makes the most sense to do so,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum.

Department of Health and Social Services says the airport testing is mainly for essential workers who fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks before traveling on to remote locations or into the field and who don’t have other feasible testing options.

Capstone Clinic is running the testing site at the Anchorage airport, while Beacon will operate the collection site in Fairbanks.

According to DHSS, some wildland firefighters and fisheries workers will be among the essential workers tested at the two airports.

"At this point, it's for critical infrastructure workers who may not be optimally be able to be tested at their final destination or at other destinations in the state," Coleman Cutchins, a clinical pharmacist for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, said.

Right now the state is testing around a dozen passengers as they come into the Anchorage airport, but Cutchins expects that number to increase over the summer. The testing program may also be introduced to other airports around the state but for now Anchorage and Fairbanks are the main hubs the state is focusing on.

Workers who preregister for testing will be tested at the airports and remain in quarantine in either Anchorage or Fairbanks until test results are returned. After that, they can continue on to their worksite where they will finish their 14-day quarantine.

"We are hyper-focused on making sure that the terminal is completely clean so that we can give travelers the confidence that they need," Jim Szczesniak, airport manager at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, said.

Results for the tests may take one or two days. DHSS said, “if faster results are needed, samples may be sent to nearby health care facilities that offer expedited testing.”

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