Southwest CEO tests positive for COVID-19 after questioning the benefits of wearing masks on flights in Senate hearing
- Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly tested positive for
COVID-19after appearing at a Senate hearing.
- Kelly told the committee that masks don't provide air travelers with much additional protection.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly tested positive for COVID-19 after questioning the benefits of wearing masks on flights at a Senate hearing, which the airline confirmed on Friday.
On Wednesday, the airline boss testified in front of the Senate committee alongside United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines senior executives.
During the hearing, Kelly argued that masks do not provide much additional protection to travelers because advanced air systems on airplanes filter out most airborne pathogens.
"I think the case is very strong that masks don't add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment," Kelly told the Senate Commerce, Science, and
"The environment is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting."
In a statement on Friday, the airline confirmed that Perry has since tested positive for the virus.
"Although testing negative multiple times before the Senate Commerce Committee Hearing, Gary tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home, experiencing mild symptoms, and taking a PCR test," an airline spokesperson said, according to The Independent.
The spokesperson added that the 66-year-old has been fully vaccinated and has received the booster and that he is "doing well and currently resting at home."
"Gary's symptoms continue to be mild, and each day he is moving closer to a full recovery," they said.
All of the executives appearing at the hearing on Wednesday were not wearing masks.
United CEO Scott Kirby, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, and Delta chief of operations John Laughter have all tested negative for the virus, the airlines said, according to Reuters.
Although Kelly's comments about masks gained significant attention, he later clarified that he did support the federal mask mandate in an email sent to employees, later released by the airline.
"To be clear, I and Southwest and along with Airlines for America are all aligned and support the current federal mask mandate at airports and on airplanes. There is no effort underway to change it before it expires."
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