Case Study SFO

The Situation

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, non-essential air travel – particularly for overseas destinations – came to a halt. To open back up safely, many countries instituted a mandatory 72-hour pre-flight PCR testing requirement before entry. With the average turnaround of PCR testing at the time averaging seven to 10 days, few providers offered a comprehensive solution to meet growing testing volumes.

The leadership of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) sought affordable, accurate and timely testing that would allow travelers to board planes with confidence. Airport administrators also recognized the need for on-site testing for employees – both those working for airlines and significant support resources critical to smooth operations. Employees needed to be tested weekly.

Specializing in air transport operations, SFO leaders sought partners with specific expertise and capabilities to fill emerging needs. This action immediately added credibility to their offerings. A trusted, on-site COVID-19 testing provider that could scale with demand proved critical as the nation and world increasingly longed to travel safely again by air.

The Challenge

Build a trusted, convenient on-site COVID-19 testing program to meet travel requirements for passengers and workplace protocols for airport workers that offers fast, reliable turnaround times with end-to-end control of the testing process.

Meaningful Results

Conducted on-site COVID-19 testing, which exceeded 1000 per day during the 2021-22 Omicron spike, to allow passengers and SFO workers to keep moving; Worksite Labs’ top executives augmented on-site staff and personally collected samples during peak holiday surges.

Set industry standard for travel testing by delivering results within guaranteed timelines of 24 hours, 12 hours or 90 minutes.

Provided proactive counsel and guidance so that airport officials could adapt to the ever-changing COVID-19 virus, as well as revisions in destination testing requirements.

Opened an in-terminal location, convenient for individuals arriving by BART, in spring 2022, with operating hours later in the day to align with Asia-bound departure times.

Adapted quickly to the needs of consumers and airport workers as the pandemic shifted.

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Helped SFO safely reopen for international travelers headed to more than 50 destinations across the globe; holistically, the airport serves 24 million international passengers each year, leading to projected revenues of $1.5 billion for 2021-22

Our Approach

Worksite Labs brought COVID-19 testing directly to the airport, providing accurate, fast results that helped jump-start the travel industry again. Using one of our early refurbished shipping containers, we installed a CLIA- and CAP-certified diagnostic laboratory in a vacant long-term parking lot. By collecting and processing samples at the same convenient location, Worksite Labs controlled the end-to-end testing process and delivered turnaround times averaging less than eight hours.

At first, we used only PCR assays, which met nearly all national and international destination travel requirements, and Worksite Labs gave travelers the confidence that they could obtain timely results at one of the lowest prices in the industry. Drive-through sample collection reduced the volume of potentially COVID-positive individuals inside the terminal, helping to reduce the risk of spread among passengers and employees. Based on a strong partnership and the company’s leadership in fast, affordable and reliable testing, SFO officials invited Worksite Labs to open an in-terminal location in early 2022 to provideanother testing venue and ease testing burdens on international travelers.

Separately, Worksite Labs offered 12-hour testing for 22,000 airport workers who were required to undergo weekly testing. With positivity rates rising during the Omicron surge, employees could test at the drive-through site before coming into theterminal and obtain timely results.

Quotation MarkA lot of people in our industry believe that the intersection of health
capabilities in an airport environment is not going away.The likelihood of
future epidemics and pandemics is great.Quotation Mark

Doug Yakel, SFO Public Information Officer