Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four U.S. and European airlines are asking government leaders to begin a joint coronavirus testing program so that transatlantic travel can resume.

Why it matters: Flights between the U.S. and Europe are a huge source of profit for the airline industry, which has collapsed since the pandemic hit. But government restrictions effectively prevent all non-essential travel between the regions.

Driving the news: The CEOs of United Airlines, American Airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa and British Airways owner IAG Tuesday released a letter sent to Vice President Pence and Ylva Johansson, the European Union's commissioner for home affairs, pushing for the international testing effort.

What they're saying: “Given the unquestioned importance of transatlantic air travel to the global economy as well as to the economic recovery of our businesses, we believe it is critical to find a way to re-open air services between the U.S. and Europe,” they wrote.

  • Testing all passengers and crew would help boost public confidence without quarantine requirements or entry restrictions, the executives added in the letter.

Context: The EU currently bars visits of U.S. residents after relaxing a ban on nonessential travel from 15 countries with lower coronavirus infection rates, Bloomberg writes.

  • Britain requires that people arriving from the U.S. spend 14 days in self-imposed quarantine.
  • U.S. rules, meanwhile, essentially prevent travel by most Europeans.

Yes, but: It's not clear how routine rapid testing could be performed before boarding, or whether passengers would need to provide documentation of recent negative tests.

Go deeper: Air travel will never be the same after coronavirus

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Oct 21, 2020 - World

Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases

Photo: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Spain exceeded 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, becoming the first country in Western Europe to hit the milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state of play: Spain, which reported 16,973 cases over the previous 24 hours, was one of the most affected countries when the pandemic started, and cases have been on the rise since September, according to NPR.

Oct 21, 2020 - Health

CDC changes "close contact" guidance for COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Noam Galai, Jamie McCarthy, Josep LAGO / AFP, Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP, and Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto, all via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its definition of who is considered a “close contact” of an individual infected with the coronavirus in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The update is likely to pose challenges for schools, workplaces and other group settings as the U.S. prepares for a third coronavirus wave. It also reinforces the importance of masks in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to belittle their efficacy.

20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did"

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) and other guests at the White House Rose Garden ceremony for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was hospitalized with COVID-19, implored people in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday to wear masks "or you may regret it — as I did."

The big picture: Christie didn't wear a mask when he helped President Trump prepare for the first presidential debate nor during the White House Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett in September. "I let my guard down and left my mask off," Christie wrote in the WSJ article.