WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, sent letters to major airlines and airports asking for their plans of action in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus (or SARS-CoV-2, abbreviated as COVID-19) and its effects on commercial aviation and the traveling public. To date, there have been nine coronavirus deaths in Ranking Member Cantwell’s home state of Washington.
The letters come one day before the committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation and Space will hold a hearing on the role of the aviation industry in containing the spread of COVID-19.
“Since COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China late last year, the virus has spread to a number of countries throughout the world, including the United States, by air travel,” Senator Cantwell wrote to major airlines. “This spread has raised understandable concerns by public health officials and the traveling public about measures that can be taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 through air travel.”
Senator Cantwell also wrote, “…we want to work with U.S. air carriers to fully understand and mitigate risk to air carrier personnel and the traveling public.”
In her letters, Ranking Member Cantwell requested specific information regarding pandemic response plans, aircraft and airport cleaning policies, existing protocol for notifying passengers when any serious communicable disease is detected, and flight cancellation policies when a passenger suspects that they have a serious communicable disease.
Senator Cantwell questioned the airlines and airports on the impact to consumers, asking them to detail their policies “for notifying other passengers on a flight or within a terminal where COVID-19 or other serious communicable disease is detected in a person transiting the facility.”
Ranking Member Cantwell’s letters can be found HERE and HERE.