Three-quarters of Delta Air Lines employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but the airline has announced further actions in an effort to get as close to 100 percent as possible this fall.
In a memo to employees on Wednesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced that unvaccinated employees will be required to wear masks in all indoor Delta settings, effective immediately; undergo weekly COVID-19 testing beginning September 12 and be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge on their Delta account-based healthcare plan starting November 1.
Additionally, beginning September 30, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.
“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated,” Bastian stated, referring to the highly contagious Delta variant.
According to the memo, mask requirements indoors and weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated employees will remain in place while community case rates are high. Delta’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting likened the variant to a “heat-seeking missile” that transmits predominantly through the unvaccinated community.
“I know some of you may be taking a wait-and-see approach or waiting for full FDA approval. With this week’s announcement that the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the time for you to get vaccinated is now,” Bastian urged employees. “We can be confident that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective, and has undergone the same rigorous review for other approved medications to treat cancer and heart disease, as well as other vaccines.”
Other airlines, including Frontier and United, are mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all employees.
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