New York’s LaGuardia Airport is the city’s latest hub to open a COVID-19 testing site—and the tests are free to all, even those without insurance. Although all three New York-area airports now have testing facilities, LaGuardia became the first to offer tests free of charge when the new site opened its doors earlier in October. Located on the first floor of the Terminal B parking garage, the walk-up testing site is open to New York residents, visitors, and airport employees with no appointments required. The facility is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and those getting tested will also receive free parking in the Terminal B garage.
Tests are administered by NYC Health & Hospitals clinicians via PCR nose swabs, and results are available by phone within 48 hours. While the tests are free, patients with insurance will be asked to provide their policy information but will not be charged a copay or co-insurance fees. (More information can be found on New York’s Test and Trace Corps website.) Similar nose swab tests conducted at other airport sites run about $150 per screening.
Although the airport location is a convenient option for fliers on their way to countries or states that require a negative COVID-19 test to enter or travel more freely, there is no guarantee results will be available by the time the plane lands.
LaGuardia’s free tests are part of a larger push from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to have complimentary tests available at New York’s airports. A similar free testing site is set to open John F. Kennedy International Airport in coming weeks, according to the Port Authority.
Numerous airports and airlines are hoping that widespread testing for COVID-19 can help restart air travel by enabling fliers with negative test results to bypass lengthy quarantine requirements. The airports’ free tests come as United Airlines announced a similar free rapid testing trial program for passengers on its Newark-to-Heathrow route. Although only customers who test negative for the virus will be allowed to board those flights, the passengers will still be required to follow the U.K.’s 14-day quarantine regulations upon landing in London