The model and cookbook author’s vitriolic tweet came in response to one by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who shared a snapshot of a packed American Airlines flight on Thursday.
“How many Americans will die because you fill middle seats?” asked Merkley, who added: “No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infections.”
Merkley and Teigen’s criticisms echoed those of the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, virologist Dr. Robert Redfield, and White House Coronavirus Task Force member and immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, both of whom expressed concerns about flights during the coronavirus pandemic this week at a Senate hearing.
Specifically, the pair slammed announcements by American Airlines and United Airlines in the last two weeks that they will lift a ban on booking middle seats. Redfield called the decision a “substantial disappointment.”
“We don’t think it’s the right message,” he said.
Fauci said, “Obviously, that is something that is of concern,” adding that he “would hope that there would be something to mitigate against that.”
American Airlines, which in April capped its capacity at 85%, said it would lift the cap on July 1. “We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members,” the airline told HuffPost in a statement.
“We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we’re providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well. We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that,” the airline said in an email.
The CDC’s guidelines for Americans considering travel indicate that “viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” but added, “Social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours.”
“This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19,” the CDC said on its website.
As of Friday, the number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide surpassed 50,000. A whopping 36 states experienced an increase in the percentage of positive tests for the virus. The number of confirmed cases is higher than previous peaks in April and May.
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