Kelly has taken heat for suggesting at the hearing that masks aren’t much of a deterrent while on board aircraft, which are equipped with top-of-the-line filtration systems that help reduce airborne particles from lingering throughout the cabin.
In a discussion about mask effectiveness during the hearing, Kelly said studies into aircraft filtration systems show “masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment.”
“It is very safe, very high quality compared to any other indoor setting,” he said Wednesday.
The discussion then turned into cross-talk between members and leaders who were attempting to back up the claim that aircraft are safe; however, in recent days Parker and Nelson have had to walk back Kelly’s comments to reinforce that the aviation industry is following through on CDC protocols and medical community guidance to use masks on planes.
The Biden administration extended its federal mask mandate on major transportation systems, including at bus and train stations, until mid-March as cases in the U.S. continue to surge.
Chair of the committee Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she is feeling fine after the hearing, and has been advised to wait until Saturday to test.
“I hoping that people continue to get vaccinated and continue to follow protocols,” she said according to a Capitol Hill pool report. “We weren’t in close proximity. We may have fist-bumped at the end.”
Nelson, who received her booster this week, said she is following CDC protocols and will test several times within the five- to seven-day recommended period. Kirby, meanwhile, tested negative as of Friday. A spokesperson for American said Parker is symptom-free, fully vaccinated and getting tested this afternoon.