Healthcare During COVID-19
March 30, 2020
Dear Flight Attendants:
Across the country, governors are issuing “Stay At Home Orders” in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. COVID-19 has taken over all aspects of life, both at home and work. This letter addresses safety and health – as well as answers questions Flight Attendants have asked about what else we can do to help our medical professionals treat the sick and stop the spread of the virus.
Over the past several weeks, AFA has been encouraging airlines and our government to put in place plans to ensure essential service continues to our communities without excess passenger flights that increase the chance of spreading the virus. Aviation is critical to fighting the virus, but there should be no leisure travel at this time. As we stated on Friday, we believe that our work should be limited to only what is needed to support our nation’s efforts to fight the virus. We are working with officials to promote a government coordinated effort to maintain only essential service until our nation has flattened the curve of this virus. And immediately, we are calling on our airlines to discontinue all non-essential aisle food and beverage service if they have not already done so.
Our airlines have played a role in repatriating Americans who were overseas as this global emergency spread and our airlines have transported both medical professionals and supplies to communities to help fight the virus. Flight Attendants have been on the frontlines helping to deliver both people and supplies, as well as uniting families who are grieving, or rushing to be with those who have fallen ill due to the virus or many of life’s tragedies. Some are traveling for medical treatment unrelated to the pandemic. Passenger aircraft carry the vast majority of mail and cargo. For all of these reasons air service is essential, although it should be planned to limit contact and exposure such as designating certain flights as cargo only when applicable.
To be clear, we have been and are currently calling for a halt to leisure travel and coordinated efforts to limit passenger flights to essential service only. We want you to know we are resolute about this, but it is not an easy task and we support our airlines and our government in navigating this complicated but necessary planning.
We ask every Flight Attendant to assess your own needs and ability to fly safe. Always review steps to guard against catching the virus. A review of procedures is copied below. Use your position as a safety professional to ensure safety before we fly. Advocate to the Captain and the ground supervisor for the proper tools to keep ourselves and passengers safe. If you are considered HighRisk for COVID-19 – please consult with your doctor as it may be best for you to stay home.
Flight Attendant Volunteer Medical Assistance Force
We have heard from many Flight Attendants that you would like to do more to support our medical community. As flights are pulled down, it may be that aviation’s first responders have time to help. We are discussing with government and medical support services the critical need for extra hands – either through virtual online assistance or hands-on at hospitals and medical centers. Flight Attendants who are willing to help may be in a unique position to do so. Please let us know if you are willing to consider volunteering whether from home or onsite, and advise us if you have medical training of any kind that exceeds our Flight Attendant qualifications. The medical community needs all the help we are willing to offer. Fill out this form if you would consider volunteering. AFA will not share your information with any outside organization without your permission, but we need to know who would like to help in order to proceed. Flight Attendant Volunteer Healthcare Force >
This pandemic may create some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. It is extremely important that we all stick together, support each other, and gather good information so we can make good decisions moving forward. We will all be able to help in different ways, including each of us taking care of our own health and that of our families.
We will be back with more updates tomorrow. Stay informed through union communications and stay together even through social distancing.
We are stronger and better together.
Sara Nelson, Debora Sutor, Kevin Creighan
AFA International Officers
What to Know about COVID-19
- Someone infected can spread the disease before displaying any symptoms, and some who carry the symptoms may not feel sick at all, social distancing is a key tool in slowing the spread of the virus.
- Continue to take all of the precautions that mitigate spread such as hand washing for 20 seconds, using hand-sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol, avoiding touching face, using personal protective equipment and disinfecting commonly touched areas.
Use your position as a safety professional to ensure safety before we fly. Advocate to the captain and the ground supervisor for the proper tools, including gloves/masks, to keep ourselves and passengers safe.
Symptoms of COVID-19
- Common: fever, tiredness, shortness of breath, and dry cough.
- Some may have: aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
- Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. However, this makes the spread harder to contain and puts others at risk.