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How to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of holiday travel rush

DIA crowds with masks
Posted at 6:11 AM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 11:03:01-05

DENVER — The pre-pandemic holiday travel is back as officials at the Denver International Airport prepare for a busy week. And as travel ticks back up, so has the demand for testing.

"Over the past two to three weeks, we've seen a real uptick in testing," said Dr. Mark Montano, the medical director of CareNow Urgent Care in Denver. "We're doing everything we can to make sure that we can test all of those patients who need to be tested."

But as Christmas approaches, those appointments could become hard to find. In order to secure a place for a test, Montano suggests making a reservation early.

"Get tested as close to your travel plans as possible. So if you're traveling on Thursday, Wednesday would be a good time to get tested," said Dr. Montano. "Anybody who is at an increased risk should be tested."

Coloradans can sign up for COVID test appointments, most of which are free or covered by insurance, at the Colorado state testing website. But the type of test can also save or cost you money.

"Oftentimes, insurance will pay for the test. And there are some self-pay tests that are done out of the clinics," Montano said. "The self-pay test can be anywhere from $90 to $150."

Montano suggests travelers find at-home tests, many of which have comparable accuracy rates to the expensive tests, but are much cheaper and don't require an appointment. At-home tests can be purchased at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, or for free through the CDPHE.

If you are not able to get tested before your trip to Denver International Airport, you can still get tested, but it will cost even more. According to XpresCheck that operates as a third party out of the airport, a rapid PCR test will cost $250 out of pocket.