|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES, INC.||41.84||+1.51||+3.76%|
Starting Nov. 1, unvaccinated employees on Delta’s account-based healthcare plan will get hit with a $200 monthly surcharge.
It's a necessary policy, according to CEO Ed Bastian, who noted that the average hospital stay for COVID-19 costs the carrier about $50,000 per person.
"This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company," Bastian said in a memo to employees Wednesday.
Following the rise of the delta variant – which has fueled a surge in infections across the nation – "all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated," Bastian further noted.
The airline said Wednesday that it also will stop extending pay protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 on Sept. 30, and will require unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly beginning Sept. 12, although Delta will cover the cost. They will also have to wear masks in all indoor company settings, effective immediately.
To date, 75% of its workforce are vaccinated, up from 72% in mid-July.
Bastian commended Delta's progress but cautioned that the "aggressiveness of the variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible."
Delta's chief health officer, Dr. Henry Ting, refers to the variant as a "heat-seeking missile" that predominantly transmits through unvaccinated people and that it has caused a surge in
"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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.