WASHINGTONU.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced the Maintaining Important Distance During Lengthy Epidemics (MIDDLE) Act along with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to prohibit airlines from filling adjacent seats in passenger aircraft for the duration of the pandemic and would require that passengers and crewmembers wear masks when boarding.

 

“As air travel begins to recover in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that airlines take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of travelers,” Cicilline said. “However, there is currently no federal mandate that requires airlines to put space between passengers on flights, making it difficult to social distance. Airlines are required to have seatbelts and flotation devices in the event of an emergency. We are currently in the middle of a national health emergency, and certain steps need to be taken. By halting the sale of middle seats during this public health crisis, airlines can do their part in preventing the spread of this disease.” 

 

“Filling planes to capacity, forcing passengers to sit shoulder to shoulder for hours at a time, is incredibly irresponsible during a pandemic,” said Merkley. “I’ve seen with my own eyes that airlines are willing to put their profit margins ahead of the health of their customers. If taxpayers are going to bail out airlines because they provide an essential service, it is not too much to expect the airlines not to make the pandemic worse.”

 

Click here to view the text of the legislation.

Bringing about the end of the coronavirus pandemic depends on Americans getting vaccinated. That's according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who today urged Americans to educate themselves now about the vaccines and the steps they've gone through.       Georgia is expected to wrap up its second recount of presidential ballots today. A previous state-ordered recount already confirmed President-elect Joe Biden beat Trump by over 12-thousand votes. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gave counties until midnight to complete this recount, which was requested by the Trump campaign.       Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is suggesting Congress pass a new coronavirus stimulus bill using repurposed money. Speaking to reporters, Kudlow said hundreds of billions of dollars in CARES Act money can be used to help struggling Americans. He said the money can be used to fund priorities like the Paycheck Protection Program, for unemployment assistance and to aid airlines.       San Francisco Mayor London Breed is taking heat for attending a dinner party at the French Laundry in Napa on November 7th. Breed's spokesman confirms the mayor was one of eight people at the upscale restaurant and at the time, Napa County allowed eight people to dine indoors, which is two more than Breed's own city allowed. Just three days later, Breed outlawed all indoor dining in San Francisco.        Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is being sued over his school closure order. Beshear stopped in-person learning for K-through-12 students to stem the spread of COVID and the Danville Christian Academy, near Lexington, says the order goes against religious freedom and the First Amendment. Attorney General Daniel Cameron is the prosecutor in the case and says religious groups are negatively affected by the order.       The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is still going on tonight in New York City despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, there will be no crowds and it's a TV-only special. There will be performances by Kelly Clarkson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jimmy Fallon, Dolly Parton, and the cast of Ain't Too Proud along with the Radio City Rockettes.