Delta Air Lines called COVID-19 a common seasonal virus
Delta Air Lines called COVID-19 a common seasonal virus

Delta Air Lines called COVID-19 a common seasonal virus

In a press release, Delta Air Lines claimed that COVID-19 is a “common seasonal virus.” That language has since been updated to a “more manageable respiratory virus.”

April 18, a federal judge in Florida struck down a national mask mandate on aircraft and other forms of public transportation in the United States. No later than Monday evening, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it will no longer enforce the federal mask mandate on public transportation or in transportation hubs due to the court ruling.

Following the TSA’s announcement, several major airlinesincluding Delta, United and American, quickly abolished their mask requirements and made mask wearing optional for customers and employees. After Delta Air Lines has shared a link to his announcement of the abolition of the mask mandate on Twitter, several health officials (here, here and here) began calling the airline out for allegedly spreading misinformation, and many split screens suggests that Delta claimed that COVID-19 has switched to a “common seasonal virus” in its press release.

THE QUESTION

Did Delta Air Lines call COVID-19 a “common seasonal virus” after the federal masking mandate on public transportation was lifted?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Yes, Delta Air Lines called COVID-19 a “common seasonal virus” after the federal masking mandate on public transportation was lifted. According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus outbreak is still classified as a pandemic.

WHAT WE FOUND

ONE Wayback Machine archive of Delta Air Lines’ original news release shows that the included language that said “COVID-19 has become a common seasonal virus” in the last section of the announcement. The archive also shows that the original release was published on Delta’s website on April 18 at. 19 and was attributed to an employee writer.

VERIFY confirmed the newsletter was updated on April 19 at 10.00, and the claim that “COVID-19 has switched to a common seasonal virus” was removed. The text was replaced with:

“We are relieved to see the US mask mandate lifted 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.”

A Delta spokesman also confirmed that the company’s “news release from late yesterday has been updated this morning for clarity and accuracy” in an email to VERIFY.

Diseases, including COVID-19, are classified according to how they spread, and a pandemic is declared when a disease has spread exponentially across several countries. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after months of assessing the spread and severity of COVID-19 globally.

“Pandemic is not a word to be used lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” the WHO said. Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus following the declaration.

When the worldwide spread of a disease is brought under control in a localized area, according to the WHO, it is no longer considered a pandemic, but an epidemic. Meanwhile, if a disease is still present globally but at expected or normal levels, it is not considered a pandemic, but rather endemic.

In March, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a interview that COVID-19 “is likely” to be a “seasonal virus.” However, Walensky did not provide a timeline for when the disease would transition from pandemic to endemic in the United States.

On April 13, the WHO International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on COVID-19 unanimously adopted that the pandemic remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). A PHEIC is defined as “an extraordinary event, which is a public health risk for countries through cross-border proliferation, and which requires a coordinated international response,” according to the WHO.

That CDC also continues to classify the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic on its April 19 website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

More from VERIFY: Yes, there is a new subvariant of coronavirus called XE

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