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"You Almost Can't Make Up A More Heinous Story Than This" - After CDC Change It Lobbied For, Delta ‘Slashes’ Paid Sick Leave For Workers ‘With COVID’

Published Friday, December 31, 2021
by Jake Johnson/

Just a day after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) delivered updated Covid-19 isolation guidelines that the company's CEO lobbied for, Delta Air Lines moved to take advantage of the new recommendations by slashing Paid Sick Leave for infected Workers - prompting immediate backlash from Union Leaders and public health experts who warned of such an outcome.

Citing internal communications, The New York Times reports 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.

Under current company policy, only fully vaccinated Employees are entitled to Coronavirus-related paid time off.

According to a company memo viewed by The 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, the President of the Association of Flight Attendants, tweeted sarcastically. "Delta has its protocol out. Doesn't even meet CDC's abysmal guidance.  And immediately cuts sick leave pay."

Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), 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 health care and education systems," Weingarten added. "Respect them, don't squeeze them."

Facing criticism from Worker Advocates and outside public health experts, CDC officials have insisted that the new guidance is based on a growing body of evidence showing people with COVID-19 are most infectious one to two days before the onset of symptoms and two to three days after.

But the Biden Administration has yet to release a brief detailing the underlying science, fueling suspicions that the updated guidelines are motivated primarily by economic concerns rather than public health.

Some Administration Officials, including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and Chief White House Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, have openly said the recommendations were updated with the economic implications in mind.

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