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Patriot Express flights to begin random COVID-19 testing for passengers

Crew members prepare an aircraft for the first flight of the Patriot Express service from here since 2016 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 4, 2019. Photo by Rebeccah Woodrow/U.S. Air Force
Crew members prepare an aircraft for the first flight of the Patriot Express service from here since 2016 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, April 4, 2019. Photo by Rebeccah Woodrow/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Passengers boarding Patriot Express flights departing from the Seattle-Tacoma and Baltimore-Washington airports will be subject to random COVID-19 testing starting next week.

According to an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center advisory, the rapid onsite tests are intended to stop the spread of the virus.

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"The Department of Defense is aggressively working to keep passengers safe and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on Patriot Express flights by developing a plan for rapid, on-site testing," Air Mobility Command spokeswoman Capt. Nikki Ferrara said Thursday.

AMC oversees the charter flights for the Patriot Express, which is the Department of Defense's contracted commercial charter flight system. It's used by service members and their families for official international travel. The system also provides seats on a space-available basis to certain qualifying veterans, retirees and federal employees, though restrictions were placed on that part of the program in March.

Those who test positive will not be allowed to board their flight.

The United States has had more than 8 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 221,000 deaths since the pandemic began this spring.

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