(ABC4) – A major airline is enacting new requirements for its unvaccinated employees. Citing the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and the rise of the variant barring the company’s name – there’s no relation – Delta Air Line’s CEO announced the “robust actions to increase our vaccination rate.”

In a memo sent to employees Wednesday, CEO Ed Bastian says 75% of Delta’s employees are vaccinated. The airline is not requiring employees to be vaccinated – United Airlines is the only to do so as of August 25.

While we are grateful for the progress we’ve made, the most recent virus variants make it clear that more work remains ahead,” Bastian says. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis, and one of the most dangerous challenges our world has faced in this lifetime.”

He continues, saying the B.1.617.2 variant – more commonly, the delta variant – has caused the fight against COVID-19 to change.

“Our Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting, describes the variant as a “heat-seeking missile” that transmits predominantly through the unvaccinated community. According to Dr. Ting, 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. 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,” Bastian adds.

He then reveals the follow actions Delta is taking to increase the company’s vaccination rate:

  • Effective immediately: Unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks in all indoor Delta settings. This will remain in effect until community case rates stabilize, according to Bastian.
  • Sept. 12: Any U.S. employee who is not fully vaccinated will be required to take a COVID-19 test each week while community case rates are high. If they test positive, the employee will need to isolate and remain out of the workplace.
  • Sept. 30: In compliance with state and local laws, COVID-19 pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated employees who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.
  • Nov. 1: Unvaccinated employees on Delta’s account-based healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge.

“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,” Bastian says. “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.”

From Walt Disney World to Goldman Sachs, a flurry of private and public employers are requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the federal government gave full approval to the Pfizer shot. And the number is certain to grow much higher.