Southwest CEO tests positive for COVID-19 after testifying unmasked at Senate hearing

The CEO of Southwest testified unmasked before the U.S. Senate, saying "masks don't add much" when it comes to safety on planes.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, who testified unmasked at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, has since tested positive for the coronavirus, the airline said in a statement.

"Although testing negative multiple times prior to the Senate Commerce Committee Hearing, Gary tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home, experiencing mild symptoms, and taking a PCR test," Southwest said.

"Gary is doing well and currently resting at home, he has been fully vaccinated and received the booster earlier this year."

Kelly testified at the hearing that he believes masks do not add substantial protection to airplane passengers and cited aircraft ventilation systems.

"I think the case is very strong that masks don't add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment," he said. "It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting."

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The hearing lasted approximately three hours. Five witnesses were seated in close proximity and went most of the hearing unmasked.

Kelly was seated between American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. Kirby tested negative, the airline said. American said that "Doug is symptom-free, fully vaccinated and getting tested this afternoon."

Delta operations chief John Laughter tested negative, his airline said, and Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson said she will follow testing protocols.

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