Tulsa International Airport is continuing to offer rapid COVID-19 testing for passengers, all made possible through a law called Direct Access Testing.
The Vice President of Alpha Express Labs Nathan Gates said he knew this would be a large undertaking when on the very first day, they stopped a confirmed positive case from flying back to Africa.
"Was it worth us doing this whole project? Absolutely yes, we saved something the very first day,” said Gates.
The travel industry has taken off again in spite of the pandemic and the arrival of respiratory illness season. Gates said passengers use the service because it's a one-stop shop that eliminates the middleman.
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The facility itself is located near Baggage Claim B. It is designed to where patients can enter one door and exit the other without ever having to touch a door handle. Patients are given a fact sheet which educates them about testing and contracting COVID-19. Gates said they can service up to eight people at a time.
He's seen everything from families, to business professionals, and even an entire company.
The lab helped test an NYC production company a few weeks ago and Olympic committees traveling internationally.
“They have to do the proper testing and what's more convenient than right here at an airport,” Gates said.
Alpha Xpress Labs averages about 150 appointments a week and has administered several thousand tests this year. Gates said they've seen 21 positive cases; all were travelers stopped from flying internationally.
Gates said they're often busiest in the morning because people want to arrive early for testing, get through security and then get on their way. Rush hour, he said, is at 8 a.m. He told Channel 6 he tends to see more patients on Mondays and Thursdays.
The lab offers several testing options but over 90% of people get the Xpress PCR Test for COVID-19 only with results ready within 45 minutes. One common question they get is whether people can use insurance. The answer is no due to the quick turnaround of results, but Alpha Express Labs gives them direction and provides the resources necessary for possible reimbursement.
“We knew we were dealing with a pandemic and different needs and trends,” Gates said.
Lars Freisberg got a COVID-19 test today and will be back Wednesday for one more rapid test before his flight to Germany to visit family. Freisberg said this resource is invaluable.
"There's been other family members that have done this traveling and since it's been here it's made life quite a bit easier for us in regards to travel planning,” Freisberg said.
Gates said they switched from monthly to weekly supply shipments in order to keep up with the ebb and flow of the travel industry. They're also considering opening earlier on weekdays.