Delta Partners With CVS To Roll Out 15 Minutes Crew COVID Tests

Delta Air Lines is teaming up with American pharmacy chain giant CVS to help accelerate employee COVID-19 testing. The Atlanta-based airline wants a rapid response test kit for flight crews, in the hope that it will help build confidence among staff and the flying public.

Delta Air Lines, On Time Performance, Punctuality
The CVS COVID-19 test gives a result in 15 minutes. Photo: Getty Images

The CVS Health Return Ready SM testing will be supervised by a CVS Health clinician at Delta hub crew lounges. It takes less than 15 minutes to diagnose whether the active COVID-19 virus is present or not.

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Priority will go to flight crews

Previously, Delta Air Lines had partnered with the Mayo Clinic and Quest Diagnostics Inc to test employees for active COVID-19 and antibodies. The SkyTeam alliance member has not said how much the testing will cost, but it is believed that priority will go to flight crews returning from high-risk areas.

According to CNBC, the CVS Return Ready program is available to companies and universities, and as of August 5th, it had 40 clients.

“Just like there’s no single method to reducing the transmission of the virus, there’s no one solution to testing our global workforce that is always on the move,” said Joanne Smith, Delta’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. “That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with CVS Health and their clinicians to offer an additional convenient and reliable option to our people.”

Delta COVID testing
Delta Air Lines will be testing all employees for COVID. Photo: Delta Air Lines

The nasal-swab test is the latest testing option available to Delta, who wants to ensure its employees’ safety and well-being during these difficult times. While it is not possible to test every Delta employee, swabbing flight crews will establish a baseline.

“It’s not feasible right now for everyone to take a test every time they walk out the door,” Smith said. “That’s why our baseline testing is so important, and we’re grateful to have partners who share our values and our vision to make testing easy and accessible to all Delta employees. We intend to use what we learn from this round of testing to make sure our re-testing program is one that continues to instill confidence among our people and with consumers about traveling with Delta.”

Delta COVID testing
Rapid testing will instill confidence in passengers and crew. Photo: Delta Air Lines

“Our relationship with Delta and their commitment to testing underscores Delta’s leadership in taking swift action in response to the pandemic, serving as a model for organizations with large, diverse and geographically dispersed workforces, and shows the important role that Return Ready COVID-19 testing can play in supporting continuity for the business community across many different industries,” said Troyen Brennan, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “This is also another example of two values-based companies working together in innovative ways to keep people working while providing services people rely on.”

Delta changes HEPA filters frequently

Another way Delta Air Lines is looking to install faith in the traveling public is by requiring all employees and passengers to wear face masks. Delta is also continuing its policy of blocking off middle seats and capping cabin capacity at 60%. All Delta aircraft are fitted with high-efficiency HEPA air filters capable of capturing over 99.5% of all particulate pollution. Delta is also changing the filters on its planes twice as often as recommended by the manufacturer.

Delta Cabin Crew
Delta crew will get priority when it comes to testing. Photo: Delta Air Lines via Flickr

If you take notice of what all the epidemiologists and coronavirus experts say, they all agree that a multi-layered approach is the best way to combat the virus. Measures include social distancing, wearing face masks, regularly checking symptoms, and being tested for the disease.

Why not test all passengers?

While testing flight crew members is a good idea, why not test all the passengers? If it only takes 15 minutes to get the results back, admittedly, it would make people feel safer about flying if they knew that everyone on the plane had tested negative.

COVID-19 testing has been going on at airports in Germany since July and is proving to be a big success. The tests are done by a German diagnostics company called Centogene, who are reimbursed for the tests by the German government.

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Centogene preforms COVID-19 tests at German airports. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Perhaps CVS could work with the US government and get people tested at American airports. It would certainly help make people start flying again and give the airline industry a needed boost.

What do you think about COVID-19 tests for passengers? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.