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January 1, Airline Executive Says Masks ‘Don’t Add Much’ on Flights



Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told a Senate panel that face masks “don’t add much” additional protection against the spread of the coronavirus on airplanes.

“The statistics, I recall, is that 99.97 percent of airborne pathogens are captured by the HEPA [high-efficiency particulate air] filtering system, and it’s turned over every two or three minutes,” Kelly told the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee during a hearing on airline oversight.

“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin,” he said. “The environment is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”

The company put out a statement when asked about Kelly’s comments.

“Southwest Airlines continues to abide by the federal mask mandate for customers and employees both within the airport environment and onboard all Southwest aircraft.”

Still, former Surgeon General Jerome Adams called the remarks “irresponsible.”

“These folks are making record money right now because of these mask mandates. I was disgusted when I heard that,” Adams said during an appearance on CNN’s New Day.


Southwest CEO: ‘Masks don’t add much, if anything’ against COVID-19 on planes

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