Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is implementing new policies for its employees as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to take a toll on hospital systems across the country, including weekly testing, mask mandates and that it will charge employees $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated.

The annoucement was made through a statement released by CEO Ed Bastian on the company website and also sent internally to Delta employees. Bastian detailed several "robust actions" the airline plans to take in the coming weeks:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.


Bastian said that with this week's FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, the airline feels that now is the time for employees who have held out to seek getting vaccinated.

"I know some of you may be taking a wait-and-see approach or waiting for full FDA approval," he said. "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."

According to Our World in Data, only 40.8% of Georgians are currently fully vaccinated. Many hospitals at the state are reporting that they are at full capacity in their intensive care units with COVID-19 cases, the vast majority of which are of unvaccinated people.

Delta Air Lines is one Georgia's largest corporations and employs 91,000 people around the world.