(NEW YORK POST) – Delta Air Lines has instructed flight attendants who test positive for COVID-19 to “refrain from notifying” their colleagues or posting about their conditions on social media, according to a report.
An email reviewed by HuffPost that was sent Thursday to over 25,000 flight attendants said the company would “follow an established process” to alert employees who recently came in contact with cabin crew members who “are symptomatic or diagnosed” with the illness.
“Please refrain from notifying other crew members on your own,” read the email, according to the news outlet. “Once you have completed the reporting procedures listed above, leaders will follow the established process to notify any impacted flight attendants.”
The employees were given hotline phone numbers to report their diagnoses — and urged to notify management of planes to take time off “as soon as symptoms occur,” according to the report.
But the email also included a warning.
“Please do not post on social media (including SkyHub) about your health status,” it said, referring to the company’s employee intranet.
One flight attendant told HuffPost that “employees have freedom of speech about their health.”
“No employer can take that away. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, our coworkers and everyone we come in contact with,” the employee told the outlet in a text message on condition of anonymity.
HuffPost also obtained a voicemail received by a flight attendant who came in contact with a co-worker who tested positive for the illness.
A worker in the company’s Atlanta headquarters alerts the cabin crew member that they “may have been exposed in the last 14 days to a person on your recent rotation who may have had symptoms of COVID-19.”
“I’m sharing this information with you for your awareness,” the caller said, according to HuffPost. “We have evaluated your level of exposure, and because of this, you may continue to fly while self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days.”
Delta spokesman Antony Black told The Post in a statement: “Our employee communication was designed to inform our crews so that they hear from us first, protect the confidentiality of the potential employees/customers impacted and ensure that crews receive leader support, details on available resources as well as advice on next steps.”
He said the company also updated its “best practices” policy Friday.
It now reads: “We take the responsibility of notifying all of our Delta people seriously and have a strong protocol in place to ensure we get in touch with anyone potentially exposed to provide support, key information and resources, and advise them on any necessary steps.
“Therefore, please refrain from notifying other crew members on your own. Once you have completed the reporting procedures listed above, leaders will follow the established process to notify any impacted flight attendants.”
Company rep Morgan Durrant told HuffPost earlier that “it was not our intent to cause confusion among flight attendants on this,” adding that “there are no plans to penalize anyone” who ignores the protocols.
Last week, a Delta official instructed pilots who test positive for the coronavirus to withhold the diagnosis from fellow flight and cabin crew members, according to HuffPost, which cited a leaked video of a pilots’ union discussion.
“We are aware of the video and the discussion contained within it and are monitoring – our initial read is this is not consistent with our [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]-informed notification process,” a Delta spokesman told the outlet last week.
The number of flight crew members who tested positive almost doubled to 57, according to figures posted Friday on the pilots’ union website, HuffPost reported.
The latest developments come as thousands of Delta employees have volunteered for unpaid time off as the company tries to save money during the coronavirus crisis.
About 35,000 workers have signed up for unpaid leaves of absence that the Atlanta-based carrier started offering last month, CEO Ed Bastian said in a Thursday memo.