Delta Air Lines on Tuesday walked back calling the deadly pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 an “ordinary seasonal virus” after widespread backlash from health experts and travelers, who noted that the virus has killed nearly a million Americans so far is neither ordinary nor necessarily seasonal.
The downplayed descriptor for the coronavirus appeared in a news release the airline released Monday announcing that masks are now optional for employees and customers on domestic and some international flights. The change came on the heels of a federal judge’s order that vacated the federal mandate for masking on mass transit and transit hubs, which include airplanes and airports but also transit stations, buses, trains, subways, ferries, taxis, and rideshares.
“We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus,” Delta originally wrote in its news release Monday. The company updated the release Tuesday to read: “We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 transitions to a more manageable respiratory virus—with better treatments, vaccines, and other scientific measures to prevent serious illness.”
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