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Delta Air Lines presses CDC to shorten quarantine for breakthrough cases

Delta Air Lines is asking the federal government to reduce the suggested 10-day quarantine for fully vaccinated workers who contract “breakthrough” COVID infections — warning that the rule could lead to a staffing shortage.

CEO Ed Bastian and the company’s medical director wrote to the Centers for Disease Control to plead their case, asking for the 10-day quarantine to be reduced to five days when it comes to vaccinated people with breakthrough infections.

They said in the letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that after five days, affected workers could end isolation with appropriate testing.

In the letter, dated Tuesday, Bastian said airline staffers are considered essential workers. As omicron sweeps the nation and pushes positivity rates sharply higher — even among people who are vaccinated — Delta warned that its workforce could shrink to the point of affecting air service if the 10-day quarantine policy remains in place.

“Similar to healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions,” the letter said.

Furthermore, the Delta executives argued of the 10-day guidance: “This guidance was developed in 2020 when the pandemic was in a different phase without effective vaccines and treatments.”

As Omicron quickly spreads throughout the country with a 25 to 50 percent greater infection rate than previous iterations of the virus, Bastian suggested that Delta would “partner” with the CDC to gather data on breakthrough cases, if the guidance is changed.

About 90 percent of Delta’s employees are vaccinated, Bastian said.

Other airline executives came under fire this month for suggesting to Congress that mask mandates on airplanes are unnecessary.

“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly, told lawmakers on Dec. 15. “It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker said he agreed with Kelly.

Shortly after the congressional hearing, Kelly tested positive for COVID, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed.

This article originally appeared on New York Post

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