DOD, United Airlines say masked passengers ‘extremely unlikely’ to catch COVID-19

U.S. Department of Defense and United Airlines conduct study and find the risk of exposure to coronavirus on commercial airlines is ‘virtually nonexistent’; Fox News correspondent Bryan Llenas reports.

Delta Air Lines is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer a first-of-its-kind contact-tracing program for travelers entering the U.S.

On Thursday, the Atlanta-based airline shared details of the program, which is slated to begin in less than two weeks.

Starting Dec. 15, passengers traveling with Delta from any international location will be asked to voluntarily provide five pieces of information — name, email, address in the U.S., phone number and secondary phone number — all of which will securely be transmitted “directly” to the CDC via U.S. Customs and Border Protection, per Delta.

“This will give the CDC access to the data in moments, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments,” the airline said in a media release.

The goal, as Delta and the CDC explain, is to be able to notify any affected passengers in a more timely manner than the current method, under which the CDC is provided with flight manifests after a passenger with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is identified. All guests within two seats of the confirmed case would then be identified, and their local health departments would be contacted and tasked with following up.

By providing voluntary contact-tracing information directly to the CDC, Delta’s new program hopes to cut down on the time it takes to notify exposed individuals and potentially curb any further exposure.

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“Independent studies have shown that the many layers of protection Delta has already put in place are effectively minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing adds one more important layer to our efforts to ensure safety throughout travel,” said Bill Lentsch, the chief customer experience officer at Delta.

“We want customers to feel safe when they return to travel, and this voluntary program is another way we can provide additional reassurance to customers and employees alike.”

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Delta currently requires masks of all passengers flying with the airline, and is currently blocking middle seats (where possible) through at least March 30, 2021, in an effort to create more social-distancing on its flights.

Recently, the carrier also announced another program aimed at providing quarantine-free travel to Italy via a trans-Atlantic testing program.

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