CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The holidays are always a busy time to travel, but this year the longest line at Gerald R. Ford International Airport is for coronavirus testing.
“With the holidays coming, this is probably one of the busiest days that we’ve seen,” said Stephen Clark, director of commercial development at the airport. “The day before was actually our busiest day; we had over 200 cars. It’s safe to say we’ll probably beat that here today.”
Opening earlier this month, the airport teamed up with TACKL Health to offer drive-up, no-appointment-needed testing.
The airport created the site as a way to protect its passengers during the pandemic, while also allowing anyone, traveling or not, to get a test.
“It has been very challenging to find a test site that enables someone to get a test without having symptoms (and) without having a doctor’s note,” Clark said. “It really speaks to the current situation that we’re in, in this pandemic and in this community.”
Airport officials expect the coming weeks to draw even longer lines at test site as passengers return home from their holiday travels.
“Folks that are coming back just want to have that piece of mind,” Clark said. “They’re not showing symptoms, but maybe they’re going back to work, maybe they’re going back to another environment where they want to have that reassurance.”
FORD AIRPORT SEES THOUSANDS OF HOLIDAY TRAVELERS
While health officials encourage people to stay home for the holidays, airport officials say thousands of people are still traveling this holiday season.
They say they’re seeing roughly 50% of what they saw last year when it comes to holiday travel. In 2019, about 7,000 people flew during the holidays. That number is now at roughly 3,000 to 4,000.
There are safety measures in place including sanitation stations, social distancing reminders throughout the building and wearing a mask. This year, officials want to remind travelers of the COVID-19 testing site on the property that people can utilize before getting on a plane.
“Those destinations that passengers are traveling to may require a negative test upon entry. So, we felt it important to partner with a group to have that testing area on-site in our economy lots,” said Alex Peric, the COO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority.