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Delta Asks for Reduced Quarantine Time for Breakthrough COVID Cases

Delta Air Lines is asking the Centers for Disease Control to consider a lesser quarantine requirement for vaccinated individuals who contract the viral infection.
With holiday travel expected to peak this week, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian is asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to consider a smaller quarantine window for those who contract COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.


The carrier made the request directly to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a letter from Bastian and airline chief health officer Henry Ting, MD.


Delta Suggests Five-Day Isolation Period Before Returning to Everyday Activities

The letter comes as the travel community braces for more disruption due to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under previous guidance, those who experience a breakthrough infection are asked to quarantine for 10 days, followed by testing before resuming work or other activities.


However, with more flyers reconnecting with friends and families for the holidays, Bastian – flanked by two doctors in his letter – is asking for a smaller quarantine window. Instead of the 10 days, the executive wants the CDC to consider issuing guidance which suggests the period could be cut in half, to five days.


“To address the potential impact of the current isolation policy safely, we propose a 5-day isolation from symptom onset for those who experience a breakthrough infection,” the letter reads. “Individuals would be able to end isolation with an appropriate testing protocol.”




As part of their justification, the airline notes the high vaccination rate among their employees, and the fact that gate agents and flight crews are essential frontline workers. Comparing them to healthcare employees and first responders, Bastian says creating an employment shortage due to extended quarantine periods could create serious problems for passengers.


“At Delta, over 90% of our workforce are fully vaccinated, and those rates are increasing daily,” Bastian writes. “Our employees represent an essential workforce to enable Americans who need to travel domestically and internationally.”


The CDC has not publicly responded to the request, nor has the agency offered updated guidance on quarantine periods for breakthrough Omicron infections.


Omicron and Vaccine Adoption Rate Forces Government to Increase Mask Mandate Period

Even though Delta is asking for a reduced quarantine period for breakthrough infections, flyers will still be required to wear face masks while at the airport and aboard aircraft. The federal face mask mandate for public transportation will remain in effect until at least March 2022, but could be subject to another extension.

rylan December 23, 2021

And what medical evidence is this being based upon?  Did DL do studies to show that they are no longer infectious after 5 days?  What a bunch of bs.  Vaccination has nothing to do with this either - those even with  boosters can and do get sick and can and do spread to others.

There is nothing to suggest or show that people infected are not contagious that quickly.  The 10 day period is there because of scientific evidence showing after that point there is a very low probability of still being able to spread it to others.  At only 5 days you're still shedding significant amounts of active virus.

Dr.Ells December 22, 2021

Dr. Bastian, where did you go to medical school?  Oh, that’s right, no where.  Leave it to us Ivy League trained doctors, please.  All of you.

DrMilano December 21, 2021

Come on Ed, you really think the CDC and public are going to "buy" into this, considering you employee the doctors who co-signed the letter?    Dr Ting, your Airline Chief Health Officer, is a trained cardiologist.  How much bed side, clinical experience does Dr Ting have treating infected patients during the pandemic? Zero??