Delta Cuts Paid Sick Leave for Workers With COVID After Lobbying for CDC Change

Just a day after the CDC delivered updated Covid-19 isolation guidelines that the company’s CEO lobbied forDelta Air Lines took advantage of the new recommendations and cut paid sick leave for infected employees. This prompted immediate protests from union leaders as well as public health experts. warnedSuch an outcome.

Citing internal communications, New York Times reported late Wednesday that the airline’s new policy “provides five days of paid leave for workers who test positive for the coronavirus to isolate” and “encourages, but does not require, a Covid test to go back to work, going a step further than the CDC guidance, which does not include a recommendation for additional testing.”

“Delta’s new protocols make no mention of whether returning employees should have improving symptoms, as suggested by the CDC,” the Times added.

Prior to the release of the updated CDC guidance — which cuts the recommended isolation period for those with asymptomatic coronavirus infections to just five days — Delta offered 10 days of paid sick leave for workers battling Covid-19. Current company policy states that only fully vaccinated employees have the right to receive coronavirus-related paid leave.

According to a memo from the company, Times, “Delta will extend its five days of Covid-specific paid time off… by two additional days if an employee tests positive at the end of the initial isolation period.”

Imposed after a spate of flight cancellations caused in part by sick crews, Delta’s policy change vindicated earlier warnings that corporate America would readily exploit the CDC’s less strict guidelines to force employees back to work before it’s safe, potentially putting their health and that of others at risk.

“Shocking!” Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, tweetedIt was late Wednesday night, and it was sarcastically. “Delta has its protocol out. Doesn’t even meet CDC’s abysmal guidance. And immediately cuts sick leave pay.”

Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers. echoed Nelson, writing that “workers’ safety should not be sacrificed to profits.”

“It is workers who are key to passengers being safe in the sky like it is workers who are key to our healthcare and education systems,” Weingarten added. “Respect them, don’t squeeze them.”

Despite being criticized by worker advocates and outside experts, CDC officials insist that their new guidance is based in a growing body CDC evidence that Covid-19 users are most infectious within one to two days of onset of symptoms and up to three days thereafter.

But the Biden administration yet to releaseA brief description of the science underpinning the guidelines, which raises suspicions that the updated guidelines were motivated primarily by economic concerns and not public health.

Some administration officials, including CDC Director Rochelle Waensky and chief White House physician adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci have been criticized. openly saidThese recommendations were updated keeping in mind the economic implications.

“We’re looking forward, as I think everyone feels is appropriate, that, ultimately, when we’re going to have to quote ‘live’ with something that will not be eradicated and very likely would not be eliminated, but can actually be at such a lower level of control — namely a control that does not disrupt society, does not disrupt the economy,” Fauci said during a press briefingWednesday

Federal officials’ ongoing efforts to defend the CDC’s policy update have thus far failed to satisfy outside experts, particularly as the Omicron variant spreads and the U.S. reports record Covid-19 cases. On Wednesday, 488,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported by the U.S. shatteringThe previous daily infection record.

Dr. Eric Feigl -Ding, an epidemiologist, is a senior fellow at Federation of American Scientists. He argued in a series of tweets Wednesday that the CDC bears at least some responsibility for Delta’s potentially harmful policy shift.

“Let this sink in — Delta Air Lines first lobbied the CDC to change Covid-19 isolation rules — got its way a few days later,” Feigl-Ding wrote. “Then Delta proceeds to further dilute the new lax CDC rules. And then Delta slashes sick leave for workers.”

“You almost can’t make up a more heinous story than this,” he added. “Delta will only offer five days of paid sick leave for Covid-19 — if you are still sick and need to isolate longer, tough shit, says Delta — no paid sick leave.”