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Flight attendants urge feds to limit leisure travel due to coronavirus

Flight attendants urge feds to limit leisure travel due to coronavirus
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A major union representing flight attendants is urging the federal government’s top transportation and health officials to suspend leisure travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration New administration, House turnover raise prospects for more diversity on K Street Reinvesting in American leadership MORE and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International President Sara Nelson warned of the dire risks COVID-19 poses to flight attendants, and urged federal officials to put in place several measures to blunt the virus's spread. 

“Flight attendants are aviation’s first responders, required by federal regulations to help ensure the safety, health, and security of our globally-interconnected aviation system,” Nelson wrote. 

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“While this global system is integral to our modern economy, its essential inter-connectedness also provides a convenient pathway for opportunistic pathogens to hitch rides on unsuspecting crewmembers and travelers and spread all over the world.”

The AFA’s call for the Trump administration to implement new restrictions and safety measures for air travel comes as a handful of governors debate when and how to lift emergency declarations and reopen their states’ economies. 

In her letter, Nelson said that at least 250 of the union’s flight attendants have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some flight attendants, she wrote, have died from the virus.

Nelson called for officials to require passengers, employees and flight crew members to wear masks on planes and in airports, and for employers to provide workers with personal protective equipment, including gloves and alcohol-based sanitizers. 

The letter also asks federal officials to temporarily restrict air travel to essential purposes. That includes travel related to the delivery of mail and cargo, as well as flights needed to transport patients in need to medical treatment unrelated to the coronavirus. 

Leisure travel, she said, should be halted for the time being.

“We believe that protecting this essential service and ensuring air travel is not aiding in spread of the virus requires a halt to all leisure travel until the pandemic is brought under control according to health authorities,” Nelson wrote.