The airline industry is resisting new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that include the recommendation fully vaccinated people continue to avoid air travel, CNN reported Tuesday.
While stressing "we continue to work with the CDC and other appropriate authorities to ensure the implementation of travel policies and measures that prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all passengers and employees," Airlines For America, which advocates for major U.S. airlines, insisted that being a passenger on a plane poses a low risk of contracting the coronavirus, according to The Hill.
The statement was in response to the CDC, which issued new guidelines saying that those who are vaccinated can meet with others who are vaccinated, and even low-risk people who aren't vaccinated, but should still avoid travel, CNN reported.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized during a White House coronavirus response briefing that "every time there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country."
Two federal health officials told CNN that the possibility of changing travel recommendations was talked about in the CDC, but that health experts are concerned that spring break travel will produce an increase in coronavirus infection rates.
However, Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and former Baltimore health commissioner, called the guidance "far too cautious," according to The Hill.
She stated that many “families are separated from one another and need to travel to see one another. I’m really befuddled by why the guidance around travel was not changed."
Wen called it confusing that the CDC also recommended that those who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine or get tested if they come into contact with someone with coronavirus and do not develop symptoms.
“If they’re saying that you don’t even need to quarantine after being exposed to someone with known COVID-19, can you not get on a plane and sit there, masked, with people who, chances are, don’t have COVID-19? It just doesn’t make common sense," she said.
Early in his term, President Joe Biden made the wearing of masks during air travel a federal mandate.
The controversy over air travel comes as the Transportation Security Administration announced it screened almost 1.3 million at airports on Sunday, the highest figure since holiday travel on Jan. 3. Since Thursday, more than 4.5 million people have flown over a four-day period, according to CNN.
Airlines for America has called on the Biden administration to have the CDC develop coronavirus health credentials so that travelers can have identify verification and personal health records on hand, The Hill reported.
U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes emphasized "it is critical for U.S. public health officials to set goals for relaxing the official guidance around travel."
"The year-long pause of travel has kept people apart and caused serious damage to the economy and jobs," she said, "and with vaccines progressing and encouraging case trends in many areas, it should be possible to consider a time frame for a broader reopening of travel.”
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