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Flights Attendants - COVID infections

Flights Attendants - COVID infections

Old Apr 15, 20, 7:31 am
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Flights Attendants - COVID infections

The uncertainty about COVID transmission has me wondering about lots of things - and when things were happening. For instance, we were in the Miami area, leaving there January 15, then got sick with symptoms similar of to COVID about 2 weeks later. It could have been the flu, but it could have been COVID.

This made me wonder....have any of you read about frequency of flight attendants getting COVID? Maybe more than any segment of population, they were in confined places/close contact with potentially non-symptomatic (and symptomatic) individuals long before we even knew COVID was around and was going to be an issue. For instance, during the January when most of us knew nothing and February/March when we were learning more.

It just seems like the COVID infection rate in flight attendants should have been higher than the rest of the population. Is anyone familiar with statistics for this highly exposed group?
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Old Apr 15, 20, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by wintersummer View Post
It just seems like the COVID infection rate in flight attendants should have been higher than the rest of the population. Is anyone familiar with statistics for this highly exposed group?
It does seem like there would be a huge rash of FA's and pilots with COVID and the matching ratio of deaths. But I've only heard of two FA deaths. It is especially odd when you consider that COVID was going on in China even back in December and there were many thousands of people flying every single day all over the world from China. Just LAX alone had thousands of arrivals from China every day in December, January, and February. And up to mid-March there were thousands of people flying to the US from infected Europe. I was one of them and the plane was about 60% full with a full complement of FA's and no one wearing masks.

Who knows? Maybe COVID cannot be transmitted on an airplane for some reason? Maybe the FA's who have been infected, were infected on the ground. Maybe at their hotels. Maybe the scientists haven't gotten around to testing SARS-CoV-2 transmission inside a pressurized cabin?
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Old Apr 15, 20, 4:25 pm
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Not FAs, but TSA has reported 405 employees have tested positive. Of course with community spread of varying degrees, it's hard to say where they acquired it from.

https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus
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Old Apr 16, 20, 5:14 pm
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I wonder how effective air filtration is in cabins but it seems that transmission is easier on the ground in crowded areas with limited air flow?
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Old Apr 16, 20, 11:04 pm
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There is a higher chance of getting infected with the Covid19 virus when you are in an enclosed area just like inside a facility, in an airplane, in a ship compared to those who are in an open area. So yes flight attendants are more susceptible in the transmission.
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Old Apr 16, 20, 11:29 pm
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Originally Posted by ProfJH View Post
I wonder how effective air filtration is in cabins but it seems that transmission is easier on the ground in crowded areas with limited air flow?
I heard that HEPA-filtration units in the ceiling quickly suck up interior air for venting, while fresh outside air is forced in at relatively high ACM. It should be a better situation overall than some enclosed stale space.

Smears in public areas as well as any droplets heavy enough to fly through dry cabin air will always be a problem, though. If you get seated near an asymptomatic spreader, be prepared for mystery transmission...

Last edited by FlitBen; Apr 17, 20 at 10:00 am
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Old Apr 17, 20, 7:30 am
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Again, if it was easy to transmit on an airplane, why hasn't there been a huge rash of infected flight attendants? And the associated ratio of deaths? Going back to last year? FA's seem to get infected at the same rate as everyone else which could mean they are infected on the ground like everyone else. It is too easy to just claim that flight attendants are more susceptible without backing that up with data.

Eventually someone should study how virus airborne transmission acts in a pressurized cabin.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 8:04 am
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I took a look at Association of Flight Attendants webpage. There's lots of information posted, but from what I can tell, only one article about a flight attendant death from COVID. Here's the site. https://www.afacwa.org/coronavirus

Here's what was posted on the site in late January about COVID https://www.afacwa.org/novel_coronavirus_outbreak

I still don't understand why there have not been more reported cases/deaths in flight attendants. I can't think of one professional in which the risk was quite as high. Exposure to large numbers of unknown people + extended exposure to these unknown people + people who had been all over world + confined spaces. I know flights are empty now, but it seems like there would have been significant illness reported in February and March, when normal travel was occurring.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 8:30 am
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I have a question for the experts. Check out this thread Flights Attendants - COVID infections

Here I surmised that since the number of cases and deaths among the flight attendant community appears to be roughly the same as those of us on the ground, perhaps that could mean that SARS-CoV-2 does not propagate well in a pressurized cabin? You'd think there would have been a significantly higher number of infections in an airplane cabin, especially with the massive amount of travel to and from China going back to the early days of this virus.

So my question is has there been a general or focused study on transmission of the corona family of viruses in a pressurized cabin?
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Old Apr 17, 20, 8:48 am
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A few personal observations and opinions.
FA's for the most part have very limited direct / close contact with passengers. Just a second or two as they pass by when boarding or departing and when serving their heads are above and away from the seated passengers and there is little to no service in coach.
FA's are working much fewer hours due to the reduction in flights. Limiting contact
Passenger loads are extremely low (@ 20% of capacity) Limiting contact
Most current travelers seem to be more aware of their health and self police their travel and contact.
Conversely I've observed less than 10% of flight crews wearing masks either on the aircraft or in the concourses but a majority of FA’s are wearing gloves when interacting with passengers.
You can draw their own conclusions.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 8:54 am
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Originally Posted by Dublin_rfk View Post
A few personal observations and opinions.
FA's for the most part have very limited direct / close contact with passengers. Just a second or two as they pass by when boarding or departing and when serving their heads are above and away from the seated passengers and there is little to no service in coach.
FA's are working much fewer hours due to the reduction in flights. Limiting contact
Passenger loads are extremely low (@ 20% of capacity) Limiting contact
Most current travelers seem to be more aware of their health and self police their travel and contact.
Conversely I've observed less than 10% of flight crews wearing masks either on the aircraft or in the concourses but a majority of FA’s are wearing gloves when interacting with passengers.
You can draw their own conclusions.
Yes, but what about all those months before mid-March? What about all those flights in and out of China during that time?

This should be addressed because passenger loads are going to ramp up again this summer in many places.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 9:57 am
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Here is a useful piece on in-flight ventilation tips.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Turning Off the Air Vent Above You on Your Next Flight (Video)
https://www.travelandleisure.com/tra...-during-flight
- “Ventilation on airplanes has gotten a bad reputation, but it’s completely unfounded,” Gendreau told T+L. Part of the reason for this, Gendreau explained, is that there wasn’t really any research on the topic until the last 15 years. But the other reason is a common misconception people often have about the way plane ventilation systems actually work.

“The flow pattern of air on an aircraft doesn’t necessarily work front to back, or back to front. It’s actually compartmentalized into various sections on the aircraft,” Gendreau said. “As a rule of thumb, the air that you’re typically breathing and exposed to is usually anywhere from two to five rows surrounding your seat,” he added. -
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Old Apr 17, 20, 9:58 am
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FAs aren't a representative sample of the population: they're generally healthier or at least not extremely morbidly obese, not drug addicts, and somewhat physically fit. They're typically required to pass physical fitness tests (open aircraft doors, etc.) and medical exams at regular intervals. Depending on the airline, they might be relatively young. They're also reasonably well educated and generally from a higher socioeconomic class than those with chronic health problems. Hence comparing infection rates can be misleading, although a better comparison might be to use only adults who aren't in nuring homes or similar situations and are employed full time (which life insurance companies use as a very general proxy variable for minimal health).

This is in response to the post above about aircraft cabin pressure and virus transmission. My computer doesn't seem to want to permit me to quote it. Sorry.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 2:40 pm
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FA's live their lives in a petri dish of pathogens, and are continuously exposed to a catalog of flu and other corona viruses. They may not have had a specific immunity to covid at first, but it sure helps when the immune system is trained to recognize and fight similar pathogens.
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Old Apr 18, 20, 6:21 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
- This is in response to the post above about aircraft cabin pressure and virus transmission. My computer doesn't seem to want to permit me to quote it. Sorry.
Are you using a browser like Firefox with a javascript or ads inhibitor? You could shift for the moment to stock MS Edge on the desktop, or Safari on mobiles.
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