As a travel blogger, I always watch the press releases and news that airlines publish.
On August 25, Delta Air Lines posted a memo from Ed Bastian, the company’s CEO. It was directed to the airline’s employees and was intended as a COVID-19 update.
The letter started with Bastian’s happiness that 75% of Delta’s employees have now been vaccinated against COVID, as well as an update about their partnership with the state of Georgia in operating the state’s largest mass vaccination site at the Delta Flight Museum (where an impressive over 150k doses were administered to Delta employees, family members and friends).
And then he came to this paragraph:
While we are grateful for the progress we’ve made, the most recent virus variants make it clear that more work remains ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis, and one of the most dangerous challenges our world has faced in this lifetime. Over the past few weeks, the fight has changed with the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant – a very aggressive form of the virus. Our Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting, describes the variant as a “heat-seeking missile” that transmits predominantly through the unvaccinated community.
And for a second there, I was lost. B.1.616.2?
I admittedly read this first thing in the morning, pre-coffee. So at first, I had no idea of this B.1.616.2 thing. Oh crap, was it another variant coming down the pike?
So I did some Googling and found this.
B.1.616.2 = delta variant. Of COURSE!
And then I remembered this meme I had posted in our Facebook group last month:
So yep, Delta Air Lines is actively avoiding using the common name of the delta variant.
It makes sense.
After all, remember all those poor kids named Katrina in the time shortly after the hurricane decimated New Orleans?
So I’m not surprised, are you?
In digging a little further, I discovered that Delta not using the name delta isn’t a new thing; it actually started soon after the so-called delta variant had been identified.
Y’see, early on in the pandemic, the World Health Organization began giving variants official names based on letters of the Greek alphabet. They did that to reduce stigmatizing names based on country of origin. But unfortunately for the airline, delta is the 4th letter of the Greek alphabet. Had Delta the airline been called Omega, they’d still have 20 variants to go (and hopefully we’d be done with all of this #coronacrapola before they got that far).
Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s Chief Health Officer, even joked about it in late June:
We prefer to call it the B.1.617.2 variant since that is so much more simple to say and remember…
— Henry Ting, MD MBA (@henrytingmd) June 30, 2021
Bastian also told the Wall Street Journal in July that they don’t call the delta variant by its WHO-given name. He said, “We just call it the variant.”
And sometimes, apparently, “B.1.617.2.”
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary