Ed Bastian. CEO of Delta airlines, announced this week that 75% of their employees are vaccinated, but in light of new COVID-19 variants, he has established new requirements for protecting employees and their customers. The new plan includes mandatory testing and higher healthcare premiums for non-vaccinated employees.
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.
According to Dr. Ting, while breakthrough cases among the vaccinated do occur, the vast majority of those are mild and often present no symptoms at all. However, the variant has resulted in a significant rise in hospitalizations and deaths, almost entirely impacting those who have not yet been vaccinated.
Delta’s actions to increase vaccination rates include:
- Effective immediately, unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks in all indoor Delta settings. This requirement will remain in place until community case rates stabilize.
- Starting Sept. 12, any U.S. employee who is not fully vaccinated will be required to take a COVID test each week while community case rates are high. Those with a positive result will need to isolate and remain out of the workplace.
- Beginning Nov. 1, unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta’s account-based healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge. 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 their 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.
- Effective Sept. 30, in compliance with state and local laws, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.