Sara Nelson, often called the world’s most powerful flight attendant, is upset that the top U.S. scientists have reduced COVID-19 isolation from 10 days to five days. What ever happened to trusting in scientists?
Sara Nelson Stokes Fear Over Science
Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued updated guidance on isolation and quarantine procedures for those who test positive for COVID-19.
Per updated CDC guidelines, those who test positive for coronavirus but are asymptomatic can return to work after five days (instead of 10) as long as they continue to wear a mask for five more days. Those who are symptomatic but also showing improving symptoms can also leave their homes.
The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.
Announcing the move, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted:
“CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
The move comes in part after Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, along with Delta’s Chief Medical Officer, wrote to Walensky urging the CDC to reduce the quarantine period:
With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations.
Delta was hardly the only major U.S. company to make this request, but drew the ire of Nelson, who has condemned the CDC decision as motivated by profits over safety.
On Twitter, Nelson not only condemned the move and proclaimed that workers will die because of it:
Dear CEOs – your “business needs” are not worth the life of a single worker. Cutting isolation time to 5 days will mean more workers will die. Full. Stop.
Don’t. Do. It.
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) December 30, 2021
It seems hardly coincidental that Nelson has directed ire at Delta management now after she has done so for years in an effort to convince Delta flight attendants to unionize.
She has also made the media rounds, telling NPR, “The problem is that we are admitting that we’re going to put infectious people back into the workplace or on our planes.”
Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence…
It’s amazing to me that the same government agencies Nelson has praised for making masking mandatory, pushing vaccines and vaccine boosters, and encouraging social distancing is suddenly unable to make a data-based decision on isolation.
I view Nelson’s proclamation that death and disaster will result from this new policy as fear-driven, not fact-driven. Maybe I’m the last one left, but I still have faith that U.S. public health authorities are not so gullible and malleable as to simply kowtow to the wishes of an airline CEO.
We need more people vaccinated and boosted, more widespread access to testing, and a permanent commitment to proper hygiene. But COVID-19 is not going anywhere. There will continue to be variants and we better learn swiftly how to co-exist with this virus.
The omicron variant is ravaging through the United Sates and other nations around the world. But if you are vaccinated or boosted, the symptoms are generally mild if present at all. Think runny nose and cough.
Meanwhile, some want to shut down the economy again based upon case numbers alone, not the severity of the virus itself. Shame on Nelson for stoking fear that is not backed by science.
I’m getting rather sick of this charade. The CDC’s new isolation guidelines were not created out of thin air and as COVID-19 continues to spread, it is proving to be remarkably mild in breakthrough cases. It is time to accelerate our re-integration into society of those who test positive but are asymptomatic.
Nelson should focus on encouraging the flight attendants under her care to provide good service onboard, not fill them with fear over a reasonable move by the very government agency she has heralded throughout the pandemic.
image: flyingwithsara / Instagram