Delta is offering medical professionals free flights to “critical areas” in the United States impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The airline announced on Friday that it has set up a program to give free round-trip tickets to medical professionals volunteering to work at hospitals in Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The flights will begin to be offered during the month of April and can be booked up to three days in advance of travel.
While the new program is currently only limited to three states, Delta says it is looking to expand its free service to medical professionals heading to other regions of the nation — including California, New York and Washington.
“We are witnessing the heroic efforts of our medical professionals around the world as they combat COVID-19, and we have deep gratitude for their selfless sacrifice,” Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “Air travel plays a significant role in making connections in both good and challenging times, and our hope is that offering free travel gives more of these professionals the ability to help in critical areas of the U.S.”
Medical professionals interested in volunteering and obtaining free tickets to Georgia should contact the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, while those who are looking to work in Louisiana should reach out to the Louisiana Hospital Association.
According to Delta, Michigan is in the process of establishing a website for medical professionals looking to volunteer at hospitals in the state during the outbreak.
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-19, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.
There are now at least 101,819 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 1,619 deaths from coronavirus-related illness, as of Friday evening. The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases in the world, ahead of China and Italy.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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