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Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines will impose a monthly $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company's health care plan, CEO Ed Bastian announced in a memo Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move makes Delta the first major U.S. company to impose a monetary penalty on workers who choose to remain unvaccinated, according to Bloomberg.

Driving the news: While 75% of Delta employees are vaccinated, the move is intended to increase vaccination amid heightened concern over the "very aggressive" Delta variant, Bastian said in the memo.

Details: Beginning Sept. 12, unvaccinated employees will be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests as long as case rates remain high.

  • Starting Sept. 30, "COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection," Bastian added.
  • Starting Nov. 1, unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta's health care plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge to offset the "financial risk" that remaining unvaccinated creates.
  • Delta Air Lines is also imposing an indoor mask mandate for unvaccinated employees effective immediately.

What they're saying: "While we are grateful for the progress we’ve made, the most recent virus variants make it clear that more work remains ahead," Bastian said.

  • "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."
  • "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."

The big picture: The new measures stopped short of a full vaccine mandate like the one imposed by United Airlines earlier this month.

Go deeper

22 hours ago - Health

Biden to get booster shot on camera

Photo: Saul Loeb/ AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will receive his COVID booster shot on camera once it's fully approved for Americans ages 65 and older, the White House said Monday.

Why it matters: A federal advisory panel unanimously voted last week to recommend that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) authorize a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine for people over the age of 65 and those at higher risk of infection.

23 hours ago - World

Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

President Biden will convene world leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push them to do more to end the pandemic — though he's also facing criticism for prioritizing boosters at home.

Why it matters: There is still no functional plan in place to vaccinate the world, and past summits of this sort have flopped. The White House hopes that this virtual gathering will produce ambitious promises, accountability measures to track progress, and ultimately help achieve a 70% global vaccination rate this time next year.

14 hours ago - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.