An emergency worker holds a COVID-19 test sample at the Juneau International Airport in Juneau, Alaska, in October 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

An emergency worker holds a COVID-19 test sample at the Juneau International Airport in Juneau, Alaska, in October 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

COVID tests at airports catch 6K cases since June 2020

The program to test travelers will stop at Alaska airports at the end of January.

On-site COVID-19 testing at Alaska airports has caught just over 6,000 COVID-19 cases since it began in early June of 2020.

The program to test travelers, which will stop at Alaska airports at the end of January, detected 40 COVID-19 cases across nine airports during the week of Dec. 12, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Currently, molecular testing is offered in at least nine airports across Alaska.

The state is now “working on a plan” to offer antigen — or rapid testing — to inbound travelers at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Fairbanks International Airport and Juneau International Airport, DHSS communications manager Elizabeth Manning said in a Dec. 23 email.

Manning said antigen testing is more widely available, cost-effective and easy to use. The department encourages testing before and after travel or after attending large group gatherings if symptoms develop or exposure to someone who is COVID-positive is known.

COVID-19 testing will continue at community sites throughout Alaska, Manning said, which are similarly shifting to more accessible and affordable testing materials.

“We’re continuing to work with many partners statewide to ensure accessible and convenient testing for Alaskans,” Manning said.

More information about COVID-19 testing can be found at dhss.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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