ATLANTA – Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines says that around 90% of its employees have been vaccinated as the company continues to get closer to charging a monthly fee to unvaccinated employees.
In a release detailing the airline’s recent profits, Delta announced it had increased employee vaccination rates to approximately 90% as of Tuesday.
This is an increase of around 15% of employees since late August when Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced new actions the airline will be taking to help increase vaccination rates in the company and combat COVID-19. At that time, Bastian said 75% of employees have been vaccinated.
Employees who have not been fully vaccinated are required to wear masks indoors and are required to take a COVID-19 test weekly.
The increase in vaccinations comes to the company’s vaccination deadline of Nov. 1. As of that date, employees who use Delta’s account-based healthcare plan and are not fully vaccinated will be charged a $200 monthly fee. Bastian said the average hospital stay has cost the company $40,000 per person.
“This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company,” he said. “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.”
Wednesday, Delta also reported its first quarterly profit since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the airline, revenues have reached two-thirds of 2019 levels, though Bastian says rising fuel prices may impact the company’s ability to be profitable in the next quarter.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows COVID-19 positive cases and deaths in the U.S. have decreased from the delta-variant peak in late August. Georgia, where Delta Air Lines is based, reported a weekly average of approximately 1,788 positive cases as of Oct .12. The last time the 7-day average of positive cases in the state was that low was on July 21.
The 7-day moving average of 85 deaths is the lowest since Sept. 14.