We want to briefly share with you what the MEC and the Air Safety, Health and Security Committee have been working on regarding the Novel Corona Virus COVID-19.
As the reports of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread throughout the United States it is important to remain informed about the situation and take appropriate precautionary measures. We are saddened to hear that there have now been several confirmed deaths in the U.S. from the virus. Despite these reports, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the overall number of confirmed cases and risk of contracting the virus remain low.
Keep Up-To-Date With Reliable Resources
You can find the most up-to-date, pertinent information about COVID-19 and its impact on Flight Attendants on the Cornavirus Outbreak page of the AFA International website. The page contains the latest news on the outbreak, resources for Flight Attendants to guard against the spread of infection, and links to additional governmental resources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC.
Guidance from the CDC continues to recommend the following actions as being the best preventive measures to avoid exposure:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (including PA handsets and IMDs) using sanitizing wipes.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect
themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20
seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after
blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Advocating for Flight Attendant Protections
AFA representatives have been engaging with management daily to advocate for protective measures and policy/procedure changes to protect our Flight Attendants in the wake of the outbreak. As of today, AFA has made the following requests of management:
- Any individual who chooses to protect themselves by wearing mask or gloves should be permitted to do so at any time.
- Eliminate water walks until we have equipment or product (individual water bottles) which allow it to be delivered in a sanitary manner.
- Provide passengers with individually wrapped hand sanitizing wipes approved for use on our aircraft surfaces and on human skin.
- Provide an announcement about changes to service made to provide a safer announcement to the passenger.
- Work on getting N95 masks of all adult sizes added to UPKs and provide adequate training for their use when dealing with a passenger suspected of having a communicable disease.
- Review aircraft cleaning guidelines and provide audit information by showing adherence levels. Provide better means for crew to submit aircraft cleaning feedback for flights
- Enhanced cleaning procedures for aircraft which carried a passenger with known or suspected contagion.
- Develop training on safe food and beverage handling, assessing passengers for COVID-19, and onboard response to suspect or identified case.
- Discontinue hot towels in F/C and replace with individually wrapped hand sanitizing wipes.
- Discontinue onboard sorting of used service items
- Discontinue placing contaminated items in the same cart as unused service items.
- Add disposable temperature gauges to aircraft equipment.
- Change to disposable cups in First Class.
- Make UPKs and hand sanitizer required, no-go items on the aircraft
- Reduce MELs on lavatory water systems.
- Make surgical masks available to passengers and crew so that those who show symptoms of infection may wear masks and reduce the risk of spreading disease. Take steps to ensure adequate supplies now.
- Provide accommodations for those who have or live with those who have compromised immune systems or are pregnant.
- Provide support for infected or quarantined employees.
- Provide support for employees who are forced to stay at home to care for an infected or quarantined family member.
- Provide support for employees who are forced to stay at home to care for a child due to extended cancellation of classes.
Management has responded and made procedural and policy changes to many of the requests made by AFA, but there are still many items that have not yet been satisfactorily addressed. A full list of actions that are being taken by management are listed in an article on OnYourHorizon (AAG sign-on required). Management is also planning to release a required bulletin shortly with additional details on how these changes are to be implemented.
Remember we do have MedAire Crew Support aka GlobaLifeline or MedLink (800-350-4390) as a resource if you suspect, or have questions about whether a guest or yourself are fit to fly. And finally, should you find on a STAR flight that your plane appears it hasn’t been cleaned thoroughly please document this through Report It and also forward to the Safety Committee. This will aide the company in their follow up with the station and help to make sure they understand these enhanced cleaning procedures.