Oakland airport first in US to sell COVID testing kits via vending machines

OAKLAND, Calif. — Travelers heading through Oakland International Airport have a new option at vending machines -- a do-it-yourself COVID-19 test.

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The test kits are located at both airport terminals in contactless kiosks, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The at-home kits require individuals to submit a saliva sample via FedEx, and people taking the test will receive results on a mobile phone app, airport officials told the newspaper.

Oakland International is the first airport in the United States to sell COVID-19 tests in vending machines, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The kits range in price from $130 to $150. Wellness 4 Humanity, a digital health company, designed the kits, and Swyft produced them, the Chronicle reported.

“As one of the first airports to offer on-site rapid COVID testing, we are now providing even more testing options for travelers,” Bryant L. Francis, Port of Oakland aviation director, said in a statement. “We still urge travelers to make sure they are current on any quarantines and regulations at their destinations.”

Airport officials said travelers headed to Hawaii cannot use the vending machine tests as part of the State of Hawaii Department of Health’s pre-travel testing program, KPIX reported. That program requires travelers entering Hawaii to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.

The kits are intended for people flying into Oakland rather than those about to board a plane, the Times reported. Like many airports, Oakland International has been offering curbside testing for several months. Travelers can get a last-minute rapid test for $120.

“Obviously, we don’t recommend people taking the test right before they hop on board a flight.” airport spokesperson Roberto Bernardo told KRON. “But when they come home, there’s a lot of people who are thinking of quarantining -- they’re not sure that, you know, maybe they, you know, got the virus during their travels, so that when they arrive at Oakland International Airport, when they land -- they have this option to go to the vending machine and use it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ordered that anyone flying into the U.S. must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the Times reported. The viral test, which detects current infection, must be taken within three days of boarding. The CDC also recommends that people who have traveled abroad get tested again three to five days after arriving and that they self-quarantine for seven days.

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