New COVID-19 testing program at Tampa International stops man about to attend family wedding

The new program lets passengers get tested for coronavirus in the terminal before traveling.

TAMPA, Fla. — A new program at Tampa International Airport that lets passengers get tested on the spot for COVID-19 is already paying off.

A local man says he canceled a trip to a family wedding at the last minute when he found out he had the virus and might have become a super-spreader.

Just days after Tampa International started offering passengers COVID-19 tests right there in the terminal, Rishay Nathoo figured — why not?

The 25-year-old had recent headaches, chills and some other mild symptoms, and his trip to a big family wedding in New Jersey was just a couple of days away.

“I wanted to be sure that I didn’t have it and that I wouldn’t get on a plane risk getting anyone to get it from me if I was positive,” Nathoo said.

The healthcare workers at TPA ran the test twice just to be certain. But both times it came back positive.

“So, I had to cancel my plans and all that, and it was unfortunate,” Nathoo said. “But better than going and risking spreading the virus.”

Nathoo says he was disappointed. His family was, too. They haven’t seen each other in while now. But, they still made sure to include him in the wedding as best they could.

“Plenty of pictures, and chats, and all of that, so, it was good,” he said.

Nathoo says one of the key reasons he decided to get tested was the convenience of having it right there at the airport. No lines. No long wait.

Had it not been there, he thinks about how many friends and relatives he might have put at risk.

“Every step of the process I would have potentially infected others, right? So in the airport, on the flight, and then when you get to the wedding, you know?” he said.

In the end, Nathoo has tried to put an optimistic spin on all of it.

“I would have felt terrible. That would have been awful. There will be another event,” he said. “Another time to get together.”

And Nathoo can’t say enough about the people who administered his test, who he says went out of their way to check on him the next day. Considering what might have happened, he’d like to see more follow Tampa International’s lead.

“I mean, it’s an excellent program,” he said. “And I hope more airports around the country do something like this.”

Nathoo says the test also kept him from spreading COVID-19 to his coworkers. Had he not taken it, he says he probably would’ve been in his downtown Tampa office in the days leading up to the wedding.

Instead, he quarantined at home for two weeks and says he is doing just fine now.

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