- According to an update to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people positive for COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms can return to work within five days. “People who test positive must self-isolate for five days,” said the December 27 press release. “If they are asymptomatic at that time, they can leave isolation if they can continue to mask themselves for five days.”
- The CDC said it gave the green light to the change due to evidence that “the majority of Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs early in the disease, usually within 1-2 days of onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after. “
- The update comes on the airline’s heels lobbying industry leaders for shorter quarantine times, citing staff shortages as their main concern.
This update to CDC guidelines cuts the previously recommended isolation time in half.
The agency also adjusted quarantine guidelines for people exposed to COVID-19. “For people who are unvaccinated or more than six months away from their second dose of mRNA (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, the CDC now recommends a five-day quarantine followed by strict use. of the mask for an additional five days. days, “the press release said. While a five-day quarantine is not “feasible” for people who are unvaccinated or without booster shots, the CDC said it recommends that they wear a mask around others at all times for at least 10 days after the treatment. ‘exposure.
Those who received their booster do not need to self-quarantine, but must wear a mask for 10 days afterward, the CDC added.
The CDC’s December 27 announcement reflects the requests made by the Delta Air Lines executive health team, whose wishes were made public in a letter of December 21. Delta CEO Ed Bastian – along with Carlos del Rio, the company’s medical adviser and Henry Ting, the airline’s senior vice president and chief health officer – wrote an open letter proposing “5-day isolation to from the onset of symptoms for those who experience a breakthrough infection. “
“At Delta, over 90% of our workforce is fully immunized, and these rates are increasing daily. Our people are a critical workforce to enable Americans who need to travel. nationally and internationally. With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated can have a significant impact on our workforce and operations, ”said executives.
Connecting airline workers with other essential workers, the executives continued, “Similar to the workforce in healthcare, police, fire and public transport, the Omicron push can exacerbate shortages and create significant disturbances. Despite data suggesting that the omicron variant is 25 to 50% more contagious than other variants, it is also said to be “less virulent” and “milder,” Delta noted, and is “associated with a shorter incubation period. and an infectious period among fully vaccinated. “
Delta executives ended the letter with an offer to partner with the CDC on collecting “empirical evidence” in the context of the proposed policy change.
The airline industry in the United States, however, is not a monolith. Following news of the letter from Delta executives, Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson told CNBC that The guidelines proposed by Delta were “the wrong decision”. Adding that the new variant is “of real concern,” Nelson said Delta’s proposal could “put flight attendants in a position to be forced to come back before they feel better.”