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The CDC said vaccinated people shouldn’t travel. The airline industry pushed back

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for vaccinated people

Registered nurse Kelsey Liljenquist puts a bandage on Susan Pratts’ arm after Pratts received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Intermountain Healthcare’s The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for vaccinated people.
Registered nurse Kelsey Liljenquist puts a bandage on Susan Pratts’ arm after Pratts received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Intermountain Healthcare’s The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for vaccinated people that includes a warning about air travel.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The airline industry has decided to push back against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines that say vaccinated people shouldn’t travel by air.

What’s going on?

The CDC released new guidelines for vaccinated Americans, which include guidance on how vaccinated people can hang out with low-risk individuals indoors without masks or social distancing, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

The guidelines also include a warning about air travel, saying people should avoid air travel even if they are vaccinated.

  • “Every time there’s a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Monday during a press briefing, CNN reports.

However, the airline industry group Airlines For America has pushed back, saying COVID-19 spread isn’t common through airplanes, according to CNN.

  • “We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk,” the group said.

An unnamed source told CNN that the industry wants the CDC to release information on how it will adjust guidance on air travel.

What does the research say?

The research is sort of split on COVID-19 exposure on planes. For example, Canadian public health authorities said in January 2021 that COVID-19 exposure might be common on airline flights.

But Arnold Barnett, a professor of statistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, told CNN he discovered the chances of getting COVID-19 — assuming everyone wears a mask on the flight — is about 1 in 4,300. That number is closer to 1 in 7,700 if the middle seat remains open.

  • “Most things are more dangerous now than they were before COVID-19, and aviation is no exception to that,” he told CNN.

One more thing

The Transportation Security Administration released data that showed 1.3 million people traveled on Sunday last weekend, which is the most travelers since Jan. 3, 2021.