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Airline industry pushes back on CDC guidance that vaccinated people still should avoid travel

CNN logo CNN 3/9/2021 By Pete Muntean, CNN
A traveler takes a photo of a Covid-19 testing sign at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) amidst travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on February 4, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) © Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images A traveler takes a photo of a Covid-19 testing sign at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) amidst travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on February 4, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The airline industry is pushing back against new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that fully vaccinated people should still avoid travel.

In a new statement, industry group Airlines For America insists being on board a plane poses a low risk of coronavirus infection because of heavily filtered air and federally mandated mask wearing. "We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk," the group said.

The statement comes after the CDC said those who are vaccinated can meet with others who are vaccinated and even low-risk people who aren't vaccinated but should still avoid travel.

"Every time there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during Monday's White House coronavirus response briefing.

As the CDC worked to prepare guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the possibility of changing travel recommendations was discussed but there was never a lot of momentum behind adjusting it right now, two federal health officials familiar with the discussion tell CNN.

Health experts remain concerned that spring break travel will lead to an uptick in coronavirus infection rates.

It appears more people are already starting to travel.

The Transportation Security Administration says it screened almost 1.3 million at airports on Sunday, the highest figure since January 3 holiday travel. The TSA screened nearly a million or more than a million people every day since Thursday, meaning 4.5 million people flew over four days.

This is the second pandemic-related disagreement between the airline industry and the new Biden administration.

The transportation industry pushed back hard earlier this year when the CDC was considering requiring that domestic air travelers get tested for coronavirus at the start of their trip. The White House met with airline CEOs, and the idea fell apart.

An airline industry source tells CNN that it is urging the CDC to publicly release the criteria it will use to adjust travel guidance.

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