WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Donald Trump brought eight of the nation’s largest airline companies to the White House on Wednesday.
“I want to thank you all, great executives,” Trump told them.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker thanked the administration for its response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We appreciate the aggressive containment efforts that the United States has done to protect Americans,” Parker said.
Starting this week, the administration says all passengers on direct flights from Italy and South Korea are being screened before boarding.
In Wednesday’s meeting, industry CEOs said airlines are sanitizing planes between flights and each company is taking creative steps to protect its employees and passengers.
“We’ve invented the corona bump at United where you’ll see us all bumping each other,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said.
The airlines asked the administration to assure Americans it is safe to travel and to not cancel their vacation plans.
Dr. Jerome Adams, the United States Surgeon General, says the risk is still low.
“You are more likely to be exposed to flu than the coronavirus,” Dr. Adams said.
Vice President Mike Pence met with House lawmakers on Capitol Hill while senators like Ted Cruz (R-TX) grilled travel representatives on their own.
“Now the virus is here and it is spreading and we must be ready for the fight ahead,” Sen. Cruz said.
Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – whose state has experienced the majority of coronavirus fatalities – criticized the White House meeting.
“They should not be left wondering from the federal government what they should be doing,” she said.
The House and Senate reached an agreement on an $8 billion emergency funding package Wednesday that could be on its way to the president’s desk by the end of the week.