Last week American Airlines lost a flight attendant to COVID-19. She was in a demographic with greater risk, and reportedly had prior health conditions that complicated her situation. It was really sad to see. Given the number of flight attendants, it’s inevitable that some will get sick from this virus.
Since there are a large number of airline employees (about 1/4th of 1% of all people in the country) a few hundred would be likely to get the virus and some of those might die even without continuing to be exposed to people through their jobs. And we’ve already seen at least 61 TSA agents who have tested positive. It’s especially sad to see when symptoms are severe, and where we lose someone.
That’s ultimately why we’re all social distancing. Although it’s not just to protect people over 70. In fact, American’s wholly-owned regional subsidiary Envoy Air (which, before the US Airways merger was just called “American Eagle”) lost a 51 year old Chicago O’Hare gate agent named José Vázquez.
A spokesperson for Envoy Air shares,
This weekend, we lost a respected member of the Envoy family, who tested positive for COVID-19. José Vázquez joined us as a Passenger Services Agent in 2016 and was based in Chicago. Our hearts go out to José’s loved ones. We are working to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by our customers and everyone at Envoy who worked with him.
American Airlines Embraer ERJ-175
Just Saturday Envoy Air had shared the information with its Chicago team that “two (2) of our Envoy employees here at ORD tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).” They were a ramp worker who had most recently worked on March 22, and Mr. Vasquez who most recently worked March 11. The airline said “these employees are getting medical treatment.” The letter, from their O’Hare hub Vice President, encouraged employees to take voluntary leaves of absence.
These stories are both sad and probably inevitable. People working in travel are either customer-facing, or likely in close contact with each other. It’s not possible for rampers to really social distance (including in their cramped indoor facilities). They’re on the front lines, continuing to work but without personal protective equipment – even health care providers are short on these.