Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is voicing concerns about the federal government’s failure to enforce social distancing guidelines in the aviation and transportation industries, namely American Airlines.
During Tuesday’s hearing with the Senate Health Committee, Sanders asked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Dr. Anthony Fauci why the federal government is not making more of an effort to enforce social distancing guidelines on buses and airplanes.
“We’re told over and over again … stay apart, at least six feet apart, if you can,” Sanders said.
He continued, “Just the other day, however, American Airlines announced they were going to fill up all of their planes, and other airlines have done the same. So you’re going to have people going from New York to California, five, six hours, sitting inches apart from each other.”
Sanders also noted that the problem spans further than the aviation industry as he highlighted how bus riders across the U.S. are typically packed on buses “like sardines.”
Sanders wanted to know why has the federal government not issued guidelines to prevent that from occurring.
Fauci acknowledged Sanders’ concerns saying, “Obviously, that is something of concern. I’m not sure what went into that decision-making.”
See their exchange below (1:14:40):
Sanders also highlighted that the lack of regard for social distancing contradicts everything Fauci and Redfield have stressed over the past several weeks. Then he posed a question about the situation saying, “The president issues a lot of executive orders, why haven’t we stopped that type of activity?”
Then, Redfield chimed in with a response to the Vermont senator’s question, as he blatantly criticized the airline for its decision.
“I can tell you that when they announced that the other day, obviously, there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” Redfield said. “A number of airlines had decided to keep the middle seat. I can say this is under critical review, right now, by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message.”
The Senate hearing comes just days after American Airlines announced its intent to move forward with full capacity flights beginning on July 1, as previously reported on IJR.
Despite health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, American Airlines has expressed confidence in the safety protocols implemented as part of the company’s Clean Commitment initiative introduced by its new Travel Health Advisory Panel.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there are more than 2.6 million known coronavirus cases in the United States.