To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to meet long-standing commitments to U.S. allies and partners, the Department of Defense began rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing for passengers departing Baltimore Washington International Airport and Seattle Tacoma Airport aboard Patriot Express flights for official duty at overseas locations.
Previously, all Patriot Express travelers were screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or history of close contact with persons positive for COVID-19 by completing a pre-travel questionnaire and on-site temperature check. Beginning Nov. 1, approximately 10%-15% of those screened who are not exhibiting symptoms receive rapid, on-site laboratory tests prior to travel.
Rapid, on-site testing has been implemented to establish pre-travel commonality among service members and families arriving at an aerial port of embarkation and to provide a baseline requirement for passengers traveling to various geographic regions with differing COVID-19 mitigation requirements.
“By implementing rapid, on-site testing for Patriot Express passengers at our BWI and SEATAC terminals, Air Mobility Command is establishing a common baseline across the services to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Brig. Gen. Norman West, Air Mobility Command surgeon general. “Through our Total Force team, AMC is committed to doing everything in our power to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among our Patriot Express passengers traveling to overseas locations.”
During the proof of principle period, the plan is to test 10%-15% of screened Patriot Express passengers not exhibiting symptoms, excluding family members. Should a passenger traveling with family or dependents test positive, the entire travel party will be referred to a service liaison for additional support, including medical care and lodging during a prescribed isolation period.
Any passenger with a valid COVID-19 test completed within 72 hours of the Patriot Express flight will not be required to complete a rapid, on-site COVID-19 test at the APOE prior to boarding. Army personnel possessing an authorized medical clearance letter will also be exempt from testing.
What happens if I’m selected for a test?
Any Patriot Express passenger selected for a rapid, on-site test following the initial questionnaire will have an FDA-approved Abbott ID NOW test performed by qualified military medical personnel.
The rapid, on-site COVID-19 test sample will be analyzed using on-site laboratory equipment and trained professionals using a molecular test to identify the coronavirus.
Test results are available in approximately 15 minutes.
Once cleared, personnel will resume the normal check-in and boarding process.
Test results will be reflected in the member’s health records.
What happens if I test positive?
Based on the presence or severity of symptoms, passengers testing positive will either be referred to a medical facility for treatment or lodging to begin an isolation period prior to reevaluation for travel. DoD contractors who exhibit symptoms or test positive will contact their respective employer for further guidance.
Passengers traveling alone who test positive will complete a 10-day isolation period. Passengers who test positive while traveling with family members will complete a 14-day isolation period, and will be afforded separate rooms to minimize transmission risk.
Those testing positive at BWI will receive medical care and follow-on logistical support from Dover Air Force Base personnel, including travel and on-base billeting arrangements. Those testing positive at SEATAC will receive the same level of care and support from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but may be lodged on or off installation.
Passengers PCSing will be afforded the full flat-rate per diem to minimize out of pocket costs, to include the cost of a second room for passengers with families. Those on deployment orders will be afforded the full local per diem rate. Authorized travel time for PCS and deployment travel will be extended to include the duration of the isolation period.
During isolation, qualified medical personnel will periodically check on personnel during isolation, and a competent medical authority will clear the member(s) for travel upon completion of isolation.
Members testing positive will not be tested a second time following their isolation period.
Each military service will produce COVID-19 testing-related travel guidance for its members. Once finalized, that guidance will be available on the AMC Travel Page, which includes the latest information about AMC travel amid the coronavirus pandemic – www.amc.af.mil/Home/AMC-Travel-Site/.
Regardless of service, all military personnel, DoD civilian employees, family members, DoD Contractors, and non-DoD U.S. government personnel entering a DoD passenger facility are required to wear an appropriate cloth face covering, according to an April 2020 U.S. Transportation Command directive.
For site-specific information, travelers should contact their aerial port of embarkation.
Baltimore Washington International Airport
AMC BWI Passenger Gateway Terminal – www.facebook.com/AMCBWIPassengerGateway/
Commercial – (609) 253-8825
DSN – (312) 568-8825
Seattle Tacoma International Airport
Seattle AMC Gateway – https://www.facebook.com/seattleamcpassengerterminal
Commercial – (253) 982-3504 or (253) 982-0555
DSN – (312) 382-3504 or (312) 382-0555