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That Airport Spa? It’s a Coronavirus Testing Clinic

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Until recently, XpresSpa was known for offering manicures, pedicures, massages and waxing services at 25 airports in the United States and around the world, where travelers with some time between flights could get themselves spruced up.

But on Wednesday, the company began offering a rapid molecular coronavirus test, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, that will return results within 13 minutes at Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports under the name XpresCheck.

“We believe rapid Covid-19 testing at airports can play a major role in slowing the virus spread and decreasing the risk of new community outbreaks linked to travel as cases continue to rise throughout many states,” said Doug Satzman, chief executive of XpresSpa Group, in a statement.

The company’s move comes as the number of people flying remains low — on Tuesday the Transportation Security Administration screened about 590,000 people, compared with more than two million on the same date in 2019 — whether out of fear of air travel or because the 14-day quarantine requirements in some states make travel unattractive.

In recent weeks, airlines including United, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue, as well as airports, said they would begin offering coronavirus tests; with a negative test often meaning that the traveler can skip quarantine at their destination. As the travel industry grapples with how to get people traveling again, testing at the airport presents an opportunity to put people at ease about getting on a plane. No airline in the United States has suggested that it will require a negative test before boarding.

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In March, when the coronavirus took hold of the world, XpresSpa was deemed nonessential. The company speedily closed its spas. Mr. Satzman said that he was, “feeling pretty helpless like a lot of people — at home, distressed and thinking about how I could help.”

At the suggestion of the chairman of the company’s board, XpresSpa started looking into whether it could shift into coronavirus testing.

By June, the company had hired medical staff and started testing airport and airline employees in the arrivals hall at Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 4. In August, testing was extended to passengers and the company started offering tests at Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal B for passengers and employees of airlines and the airport. The company was administering polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests and blood antibody tests, which can take 2 to 3 days to return results.

Although the company brought back most of its corporate staff who had been furloughed, including those who worked in construction design and human resources, most of its employees who worked at airports are still furloughed.

To some, the conversion of a business offering chair massages and mani-pedis into a medical testing facility might seem like a stretch.

But, “if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses of all kinds have got to find ways to pivot in order to say alive,” said Scott Mayerowitz, executive editorial director of the travel news site The Points Guy. “If you asked me last year if a series of airport spas where people went to relax and escape the stress of travel would be offering medical services in a year, I would have laughed. But now it feels like a smart business move.”

XpresCheck’s Kennedy Airport clinic can test up to 500 people per day, and since August, Mr. Satzman said, many travelers opted to take both the PCR nasal swab test and the blood antibody test. At Newark Airport, the clinic can test up to 350 people a day. XpresCheck’s clinics charge $75 for one test or $90 for both the antibody and the PCR tests without insurance. The new rapid molecular tests cost $200 and are not covered by insurance.

The Abbott rapid coronavirus test, called the ID NOW, is fast and easy to operate, giving results in just a few minutes, but the test is less accurate than laboratory tests that use a P.C.R. technique. The test has not been cleared by the Federal Drug Administration, but it has been authorized by the agency for emergency use by laboratories and in patient care settings.

Mr. Satzman said that a company like his offering testing is just one part of a larger effort, and in order for tests to be more widely available, airlines, airports and companies need to coordinate.

“We are one piece of this to provide testing in the airport,” he said. “We’ve been on the phone lobbying congressional offices and representatives from the White House, the F.A.A., T.S.A. urging funding for testing in airports,” Mr. Satzman said.

The International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group, along with Airlines for America and the World and Airports Council International-North America, requested in September that all international travelers be tested systematically before flights. That could make a coronavirus test an expected part of airplane travel, akin to having passengers take off their shoes and discard liquids before heading to the gate.

XpresCheck plans to open at La Guardia Airport and at Boston’s Logan Airport soon. Mr. Satzman said that the company is working to expand into other airports around the country.

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CVS Health will hire 15,000 more workers ahead of flu season.

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CVS Health announced on Monday that it planned to hire 15,000 workers to prepare for expected increases in coronavirus and flu cases in the United States during the fall and winter months.

More than 10,000 of the new roles will be full-time and part-time licensed pharmacy technicians at CVS Pharmacy locations to help administer Covid-19 tests, process prescriptions and dispense medications.

“Additional team members typically are needed every flu season,” Lisa Bisaccia, chief human resources officer of CVS Health, said in a statement. “However, we’re estimating a much greater need for trained pharmacy technicians this year given the continued presence of Covid-19 in our communities.”

The additional hires may also help the company distribute a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available, if federal officials permit pharmacy technicians to administer it.

In March, CVS Health announced plans to fill 50,000 jobs across the country, the “most ambitious hiring drive in the company’s history,” it said at the time. The company has more than 4,000 drive-through coronavirus testing sites across the United States.

Separately, Target said on Monday that it would pay a fourth bonus to its employees who work in stores, distribution centers and staff and employee contact centers, as the pandemic continues and the retailer’s sales have soared this year.

More than 350,000 workers will receive $200 by early November, Target said.

Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.

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Airports screened more than one million travelers for the first time since mid-March.

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More than a million people passed through airport checkpoints on Sunday, the first time the Transportation Security Administration has screened that many people since mid-March.

While that represents a symbolic milestone for the travel industry, U.S. airlines are still losing billions of dollars a month as they brace for much weaker demand for tickets this winter. The number of people screened by the T.S.A. on Sunday was down about 60 percent compared with the same day a year ago.

Last week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both said that operating revenue in the three months through September had fallen nearly 80 percent compared with last year. That period spanned much of the summer, which is typically the busiest season for airlines. Corporate travel typically sustains them in the fall, but many large businesses have been cautious about returning to normal operations and have told their employees to work from home until next July.

The steep decline in travel has forced airlines to cut to the bone, tweaking every part of the business as they hope to capitalize on what little demand remains. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are expected to release similarly dismal third-quarter financial results this week.

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Mexico will buy 34.4 million vaccines Pfizer

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The vaccines of this pharmaceutical company were photographed by the British press coming off the production line.

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October 19, 2020 2 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

  • If it meets the requirements, the pharmaceutical company would have 200 million doses by 2020.

Pfizer’s vaccines were photographed by the British press coming off the production line and Mexico could acquire between 15.5 and 34.4 million of them, since the American pharmaceutical company is among those that signed a contract with the country’s government.

The vaccines that were portrayed still have to meet a number of conditions before they can be distributed. In the first instance, they must pass clinical trials and then be approved by regulators internationally.

If it meets the requirements, the pharmaceutical company would have 200 million doses by 2020 and of these 40 million would be for the United Kingdom. Likewise, by 2021 they would produce an estimated 1.3 billion.

On October 16, the proposed purchase sale with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and CanSino in Mexico was announced. The country’s government committed to the purchase of approximately 140 million doses.

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