Alaska closes airport COVID-19 testing sites

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Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 4:34 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The State of Alaska has closed airport COVID-19 testing sites as of January 31st.

According to Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska, these sites were always meant to be temporary.

“We need to use 2022 tools for 2022 problems,” Dr. Zink explained. “Testing for highly contagious, infectious diseases at the airport was never a long term strategy in that space. It was useful, particularly when we had very limited testing. We have more community testing now than ever before, and there’s more availability for home testing.”

The State of Alaska is currently working on finding alternative solutions to help expand availability of COVID-19 tests in the wake of these closures.

“We are working with some people in the private sector who are looking at setting up other things,” Dr. Zink elaborated, “anywhere from vending machines for testing in the airport, as well as different Tribes and regions who want to have testing for their region prior to coming out. But really at this point, Alaskans can request via the federal government, home testing. I do suspect that we will have more and more commercial availability for home testing and there are more commercial sites overall. So we’ll want to make sure that testing is easy and accessible. But doing it either next to baggage claim or even behind the airport long term is not sustainable. So we were looking to find other ways to support Alaskans in that space.”

According to Dr. Coleman Cutchins, Clinical Pharmacist for the State of Alaska, those seeking to test before international travel have access to testing methods for each country’s requirements.

“Different countries have vastly different requirements,” Dr. Cutchins stated. “The good news, especially when we’re talking about travel testing, almost everywhere I’ve seen has a commercial option available that you can purchase online and have it shipped to your house. So if you need to travel to China and you need a PCR, there are tests that qualify for that that you can order on your own.”

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