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Airlines still enforcing COVID protocols amid summer travel

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 3:22 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - As coronavirus cases continue trending down, more vaccinated Americans are taking to the skies to travel. But COVID-19 restrictions still remain in place.

At Easterwood Airport in College Station, American and United Airlines both require face coverings while on board. American is also denying future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering.

Southwest Airlines claims that since the beginning of the year, there have been over 2,500 arguments regarding mask-wearing.

Dr. David McKenas, a board-certified specialist in both aerospace medicine and occupational medicine, has served as the corporate medical director for American Airlines from 1992 to 2002. The former air force officer was on First News at Four on Monday.

The current policy in place for anyone who flies on a plane, McKenas says, is best to be safe than sorry.

“It still is good to wear the mask just for your own protection,” McKenas said.

For the foreseeable future, McKenas says he doesn’t see the policy changing anytime soon.

“They actually are generally good practices to follow to stay safe whenever you’re in close contact with people,” said McKenas. “We need that until we get the full herd immunity from the virus which is when enough people either have received vaccinations or have been infected that they protect the rest of the population.”

But will airports get back to normal anytime soon? McKenas says maybe.

“Generally, when you reach about 75 percent, that’s when herd immunity kicks in and you could see a lessening of these restrictions.”

Internationally, some countries are in the midst of a fourth wave of cases, but it is having an affect here in the United States.

“Whether or not cases are coming in from foreign countries, or we’re transporting cases out of the United States, it’s best to have that heightened level of protection until we’re assured that most people have immunity to the disease,” McKenas said.

To watch the full interview, click on the video player above.

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