Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

Delta will become first U.S. airline to launch COVID-19 contact tracing program

A Delta plane.
Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Delta will partner with the CDC to launch a contact tracing program for international travelers starting on Dec. 15, the airline announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It will become the first major U.S. airline to collect information to track the spread of COVID-19. Customers traveling to the U.S. — returning or visiting — will be asked to volunteer their names, addresses, email addresses, and two phone numbers.

  • Delta will give the information to the CDC via Customs and Border Protection.
  • "This will give the CDC access to the data in moments, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments," the news release states.

Contact tracers currently have to ask airlines for passenger manifests to track down people seated around the person who carried the virus. They then send that information to local health departments for follow-up.

  • Delta says the new program will streamline that process.

What they're saying: Independent studies have shown that the many layers of protection Delta has already put in place are effectively minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing adds one more important layer to our efforts to ensure safety throughout travel,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, in the news release.

  • “We want customers to feel safe when they return to travel, and this voluntary program is another way we can provide additional reassurance to customers and employees alike.”  
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