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No test? No problem. Rapid COVID-19 testing available at John Wayne Airport

Nurse practitioner JoAnn Escalante-Alviz prepares a COVID-19 test at Hoag's rapid testing clinic at John Wayne Airport.
Nurse practitioner JoAnn Escalante-Alviz on Tuesday prepares a COVID-19 test at Hoag’s rapid testing clinic located in Terminal B on the departure level at John Wayne Airport.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Prospective travelers can now be tested for COVID-19 at John Wayne Airport before they clear airport security, thanks to a rapid testing clinic operated by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian that opened Monday.

Located in Terminal B on the departure level just before the TSA checkpoint, people will be able to walk up to the testing clinic and request a test without an appointment.

Tests will cost $139, but the clinic will also take insurance if available. Once paid for, trained clinicians will administer the nasal swab and take it back to an on-site lab to produce results in 15 to 30 minutes. Provided is an antigen test, which detects certain proteins within the virus. This differs from PCR tests, which detect the genetic material of the virus and can take about a week for results.

The rapid testing clinic differs from the Fly Well Clinic, also operated by Hoag, which was announced in November, and is expected to be able to offer urgent care services by this spring.

“As cases continue to rise here in Orange County and across the nation, it’s important that our community has access to COVID-19 testing,” Robert Braithwaite, president and chief executive officer for Hoag, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with John Wayne Airport to offer this convenient and accessible rapid testing option in the heart of Orange County.”

Licensed vocational nurses Maria Suarez, far right, and Ergee Almalvez, second from right.
Nurses Maria Suarez, far right, and Ergee Almalvez, second from right, work the front desk as nurse practitioner JoAnn Escalante-Alviz, far left, instructs a patient on a COVID-19 test at Hoag‘s rapid testing clinic at John Wayne Airport.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported a total of 3,995 cases Monday and Tuesday. There have been 214,808 cases in the region since March.

County officials also reported 46 deaths on Monday and 64 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 2,477 countywide since officials began tracking data at the onset of the pandemic.

High winds forced a two-day closure of the Disneyland vaccination site Tuesday, while a batch of Moderna vaccine given to 5,217 O.C. residents is being investigated by the CDC for possibly causing allergic reactions.

The location of the rapid testing clinic allows concerned travelers the ability to be tested before they pass security, but also allows local residents to stop by if they need to be tested, said Marcy Brown, the senior vice president and chief hospital operations officer for Hoag. She added that officials didn’t want travelers to receive a positive result after checking in luggage or holding boarding passes.

“Not only are we servicing these travelers who can be confident before they board, but also the community,” Brown said. “I can go down there this afternoon and get tested. I could park in the short-term parking, walk in, get my test and walk out.”

“It’s also serving the surrounding community as a high-quality, branded, rapid COVID testing location,” she added.

Hoag is offering COVID-19 rapid testing at John Wayne Airport.
Hoag is offering COVID-19 rapid testing at John Wayne Airport. The rapid testing clinic is located in Terminal B on the departure level before the TSA security checkpoint.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Airport director Barry Rondinella said John Wayne Airport aims to make people feel safer and more secure while they travel, which includes the rapid testing clinic and the Fly Well Clinic.

“People need to fly. They still have things that they need to do and places they need to go. It’s important that folks know that John Wayne Airport is safe; it’s clean; we regularly sterilize high touch points and at other places; we have all of the precautions taken,” said Rondinella, adding that the airport has also installed 6-foot distancing markers and plexiglass shields.

“Should you want or need to fly, you are safe at John Wayne Airport and we are taking every precaution that we know of to make you feel that way and for that to be the case,” Rondinella said.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

Brown said the goal of both the rapid testing clinic and the Fly Well Clinic was just to keep the community healthy, whether that was during the pandemic or whenever normal life resumes.

“Think of the business travelers or the families on vacation that plan on going to Disneyland,” Brown said.

Urgent care services at Hoag Fly Well Clinic will open soon in Terminal B on the departure level at John Wayne Airport.
Urgent care services at Hoag Fly Well Clinic will be opening soon in Terminal B on the departure level at John Wayne Airport.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“What a great, convenient service to have urgent care services right there in the airport for someone who isn’t feeling well, who just landed and is coming back to have Hoag right there, partnered with John Wayne Airport, offering these convenient health services,” Brown said. “It’s a win. It’s an absolute win-win.”

Coronavirus mutations are on the rise. The longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely we’ll see a variant that eludes our tests, treatments and vaccines.

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 39,189 cases; 462 deaths
  • Anaheim: 36,117 cases; 493 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 8,717 cases; 122 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 7,378 cases; 70 deaths
  • Irvine: 8,372 cases; 39 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 3,046 cases; 40 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 2,839 cases; 38 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 660 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 21,454 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 29,929 cases; five deaths
  • 25 to 34: 43,579 cases; 28 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 33,789 cases; 51 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 34,642 cases; 174 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 26,809 cases; 328 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 13,271 cases; 473 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 6,642 cases; 562 deaths
  • 85 and older: 4,545 cases; 855 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. Information on the COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County can be found at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources.

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