Friday, March 13, 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
Coronavirus (COVID-19) started as a complicated situation and has evolved into a global pandemic. APFA continues to work very closely with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Kris Belland, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as U.S. Department of State and Jurisdictional Public Health Officials on the latest developments and announcements. Here are our latest updates and reminders for ensuring safety:
- Effective 13 MAR 20 23:59, there will be Presidential travel restrictions for foreign nationals flying to and from 26 European states (also called the Schengen Area) on all European International flights (except for the United Kingdom and Ireland). All flights currently scheduled through this Friday evening will operate as planned.
- Crews should continue to report to work as scheduled. American is currently evaluating future flight schedules as a result of this announcement and the expected impact on bookings.
- American currently flies to five countries within the Schengen Area: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.
- These restrictions are similar to those the Administration put in place for travel for foreign nationals traveling to/from mainland China and Iran.
- U.S. citizens are not affected.
- Starting March 13 at 23:59:
- Any U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident returning to the United States who has traveled to one of the Schengen Area countries within the previous 14 days must enter the United States through an approved airport.
- Working crew members, including those deadheading, who are traveling to the United States are not affected. Non-crew members must have their valid American identification in hand.
- Foreign nationals who have traveled to one of the Schengen Area countries within the last 14 days will be denied permission to travel to the United States.
- The CDC now recommends wearing gloves and masks for the following:
- Tending to a sick passenger
- Masking sick passenger
- Touching any bodily fluids
- Touching contaminated surfaces, such as in bathrooms
APFA insisted that Flight Attendants should be able to wear gloves and masks during all phases of flight, since COVID-19 can be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface. AVOID touching the face, eyes, nose and mouth without washing hands or using proper hand sanitizer. When wearing gloves, utilize universal precautions and remove gloves carefully to avoid contamination. Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, even after removing gloves.
- Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are being provisioned for crew members on all international flights. APFA has requested this be extended to all flights. The Company has assured APFA that more flights will be provisioned as the Company procures more supplies.
- Hot towels have been discontinued at the insistence of APFA.
- Additional sanitation and disinfection procedures have been implemented for catering equipment on key international flights.
- Refrain from filling/re-filling personal water containers from bottles or the galley faucet. This includes large water bottles used to refill smaller or personal bottles.
- All galley equipment, including carts and carriers, are to be sanitized daily.
- Aircraft are no longer being dispatched without potable water or operational lavatories. Anti-bacterial soap is being provisioned and ensured it is not watered down.
- International flights and aircraft with additional ground time receive a detailed 30-point cleaning package daily. Aircraft undergo a deep cleaning procedure every 45 days using Bactronix during “ultraclean”. APFA has requested that the Company increase the frequency of cleaning. Many aircrafts receive a more thorough cleaning of all hard surfaces each day, including tray tables and armrests.
- APU’s will be operated at the gate to utilize onboard High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters installed in the cabin air’s recirculation, ensuring cabin air is filtered once every two to four minutes. A HEPA filter does not protect against the spread of the COVID-19 but significantly improves cabin air quality and eliminates odors.
If you suspect a passenger of being ill, protect yourself first utilizing Universal Precautions.
If the aircraft is on the ground:
- Immediately notify the captain or gate agent.
- The gate agent will notify the appropriate managers at the station, who will then contact the IOC and Physician on Call (POC).
- A determination will be made if the passenger is fit to fly or what steps need to be taken.
According to DOT rules, we may not discriminate or refuse transportation to customers unless they’re deemed to pose a significant risk to the health and safety of others. Defer to the captain’s authority.
If the aircraft is in flight:
- Immediately notify the captain and request to contact the Physician on Call (POC). The POC will ask for specific information about the individual’s symptoms and history, to verify if a communicable disease is present.
- The POC will then provide instructions on what to do next. It’s possible that crew members may be asked to take the customer’s temperature, provide a face mask, or move them to another location in the cabin.
- All Flight Attendants involved must fill out a Corporate Event Reporting System (CERS) report within 24 hours.
- Utilize Universal Precautions. If a customer shows signs of a communicable disease, we have many resources on board to care for the patient and prevent the spread of illness.
Resources available to you on board:
Flight Attendant Service Kit
Extra air sickness bags, sanitizing wipes, acetaminophen, aspirin, MEIS form, First Aid Kit, gloves and masks
Grab & Go Kit
Gloves, absorbent powder and scoop, mask with eye shield, gown, surface disinfectant, antiseptic wipe, body fluid disposal bag, bio bag, pocket mask, sharps container, MEIS form
Ancillary Kit (ANC)
Gloves, barrier masks, hand sanitizer wipes, temperature strips, biohazard bag
Inflight Medical Kit (IMK)
(The POC must give her/his permission to open)
Contains several medicines, plus a BP cuff, stethoscope and pulse oximeter.
For more information on how to respond to a suspected communicable disease, please refer in the Inflight Manual (IFM) Medical>Illnesses>Symptoms List >Suspected Communicable Diseases.
We know this is an uncertain time for many, and we want to make sure all Flight Attendants and crew members remain as healthy, calm, and safe as possible.
In Unity & Solidarity,
APFA National Safety & Security Chair
APFA National Health Chair