Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian informed employees on Wednesday that unvaccinated workers enrolled in the company’s healthcare plan would soon be subject to higher premiums to cover increased costs associated with COVID-19.
Effective November 1, employees who have not been immunized against coronavirus will face a $200 increase in their monthly payments.
“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Bastian wrote in the memo. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.”
Bastian cited the “rise of the B.1.617.2 variant,” also known as the Delta variant, noting that all Delta employees who had been hospitalized with COVID in recent weeks were not fully vaccinated against the virus.
Other changes detailed in the memo include requiring unvaccinated employees to wear face coverings in all indoor Delta settings, effective immediately. In addition, beginning September 12 all U.S.-based employees who are not fully vaccinated must take a weekly COVID test “while community case rates are high.”
“Those with a positive result will need to isolate and remain out of the workplace,” Bastian said.
He wrote that Dr. Henry Ting, the airline’s first Chief Health Officer, “describes the variant as a ‘heat-seeking missile’ that transmits predominantly through the unvaccinated community.”
The new policies come two days after the Food and Drug Administration issued full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first time a vaccine against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic has been given the stamp of approval from regulators.
More from the memo:
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. 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.
If you aren’t fully vaccinated, I strongly urge you to discuss the issue with your personal physician or health provider. In addition, testing and vaccination information is available on Deltanet, and Dr. Ting provides regular, informative updates on the state of the virus and the tools available to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.
Protecting yourself, your colleagues, your loved ones and your community is fundamental to the shared values that have driven our success for nearly a century. Vaccinations are the safest, most effective, and most powerful tool we have to achieve our goals, live up to our values and move forward.
According to Bastian, 75% of Delta Airlines employees have been vaccinated.
“While we can be proud of our 75% vaccination rate, the aggressiveness of the variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible.”
Related: FDA Approves Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine