Should You Get a PCR Test Prior to Travel?

Short answer: yes!

I should not have to say this, but the coronavirus pandemic is still raging throughout the world. The United Kingdom and the United States of America are two countries where the cases seem to be growing exponentially. The United Kingdom has imposed a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread. The United States, on the other hand, has left it up to each individual state to develop a response plan. NOTE: Hawaii is the only state to require a negative test prior to arriving.

I do not think leaving it up to the states is the best plan. We are almost a year into the pandemic and it seems to be breaking records, for infections and deaths, daily. The vaccine distribution promised to ease the burden but the rollout has been much slower than expected.

Many Americans have continued to travel domestically as if these are normal times. The increase in cases after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays led to an overwhelming of medical facilities around the country. The airlines and other in the travel industry, can only do so much when it comes to responding to the pandemic. It is up to us, the travelers, to change for the better.

There are things we can do to protect one another as we travel. Those things included practicing good hygiene (at home and aboard the aircraft), social distancing, mask wear and use of hand sanitizers. This list should not anything new to you all. I have one more thing we should do, if we want to travel: get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test prior to and after traveling.

By getting tested prior to travel, we will know if we are COVID positive before interacting with other travelers. In case you did not know, a majority of people carrying the coronavirus are asymptomatic. If the test is positive, stay home in quarantine. Once your quarantine is over, test again and only travel if the results are negative.

When your travel is over and things are starting to wind down, that is not the time to get complacent. Test as soon as possible. This will help protect your family and coworkers because you chose to travel. There are numerous places to get tested, but I will provide you the ones I have used.

CVS and Walgreens are two pharmacies were we are able to get PCR tests without having to go to the hospital or some other testing center. Here are the specifics for each:

CVS. The pharmacy allows customers to schedule a PCR test on their website. The tests are offered to customers over 10 years of age. CVS covers nearly 60% percent of the states in the country and costs $120 USD per test (if not covered by insurance). Some locations offer rapid tests, results available in hours, while other results are available within 72 hours. The full list of instructions are available on the website.

Walgreens. The pharmacy also allows customers to schedule their PCR test on their website. Tests are offered for customers over three years of age. Walgreens automatically displays a coverage map when you visit their testing website. The cost of the rapid and diagnostic tests are $129 USD per test. The rapid results are available within 24 hours, while the results vary for the diagnostic test. The one thing I find strange is that Walgreens allows customers to swab themselves, under the guidance of a staffer.

Final Word

I know that PCR testing is not mandatory, but we have to do our part to ensure we travel as safe as possible. $250 USD is a good bit of money to pay for testing, but if we really want to travel then this should be a no-brainer. If we want the world to re-open, we have to do our part to prevent the continued spread of the virus. Doing our part is ensuring we are safe as we can be when traveling, lives depend on it.

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