After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 to just five days, Delta Air Lines preemptively cancelled only 83 flights on Tuesday – just 3% of its planned schedule.
The Atlanta-based carrier had been one of the most outspoken in business America in its push for the CDC to reduce the recommended isolation period from 10 days to four days.
Delta had to cancel hundreds of flights during the holidays due to a high number of employees being quarantined after a positive COVID-19 test.
The CDC went considerably further in its amended guidelines than Delta chief executive Ed Bastian had requested. Updated recommendations, according to Bastian, should be limited to persons who are completely vaccinated, and any early escape from isolation should be accompanied by a negative fast test.
Instead, regardless of vaccination status, the CDC decreased the isolation period for everyone. Given the countrywide failure of quick testing, the CDC did not include a criterion for a negative test for early isolation leave.
The revisions were made in response to new research suggesting that patients who with COVID-19 are most infectious 1-2 days before and 2-3 days after symptom onset.
Even if they test positive on day 5, someone with COVID-19 is thought to be significantly less contagious than initially assumed.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, said that the adjustment was prompted in part by the need to keep the economy afloat.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” commented Dr Walensky.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”
Delta was one of the first corporations to confirm that it will follow the new guidance.
The guidance, according to the airline, will offer it more “flexibility” in scheduling crews who might otherwise be detained at home.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) lambasted the decision, saying it wasn’t encouraged by the fact that the CDC guidance agreed with what business had been advocating for.
“There are two significant caveats in the guidance that recognize concerns raised by our union,” commented AFA President Sara Nelson. “CDC recommends reducing quarantine to five days only if asymptomatic and with continued mask wearing for an additional five days.”
“If any business pressures a worker to return to work before they feel better we will make clear it an unsafe work environment, which will cause a much greater disruption than any ‘staffing shortage’.