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COVID-19

Delta Airlines Will Raise Health Insurance Costs for the Unvaccinated by $200 Monthly

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Delta

Delta airlines employees who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine will be paying $200 more for their monthly health insurance coverage beginning November 1. Employees were notified Wednesday by the airline’s CEO Ed Bastian in the announcement of new covid policies for employees.

The CEO cited the hefty costs of covering employees who become hospitalized with the virus. “The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person” the employee memo stated. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is crating for our company” the memo continued.

“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.” Delta also implemented another policy, beginning September 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.” After which, unvaccinated employees who get COVID will have to use their sick days, without exemptions.

CEO Bastian added roughly 75% of Delta’s approximately 75,000 employees are already vaccinated and that “aggressiveness of the [delta] variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100 percent as possible.”

CNBC reports:

Delta, which has the fewest unionized employees of the large U.S. airlines, said it informed the Air Line Pilots Association, their aviators’ labor union, of the changes.

The Delta chapter of ALPA has repeatedly said vaccinations should be voluntary for its members.

The union “has consistently advocated to maintain the right of each individual pilot to consult with his or her medical provider regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or booster doses,” it said in a statement. “While the Delta [master executive council] respects Delta Air Line’s efforts to mitigate the impact of breakthrough COVID-19 variant infections, it needs to bargain with the Delta MEC over any employer-mandated vaccination for pilots.”

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COVID-19

Biden Admin Announces First COVID Shots For Kids Under 5 Likely By June 21

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Covid-19 vaccination record card with syringe and vial

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that children under 5 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if regulators authorize the shots for this age group as expected.

According to the Associated Press, White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha “said the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.”

Jha added that states can begin placing orders for the pediatric vaccines on Friday and the administration will initially have 10 million doses available.

“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Jha said. “At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right.”

The news comes the week after Pfizer announced that three doses of their vaccine offers strong protection against COVID-19 in children under 5.  However, according to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a third dose is unnecessary because the vaccines do not prevent infection.

“I think the decision matrix has changed around the vaccine for [ages] 6 months to 4 years old and so far as we know that the vaccine isn’t as protective at preventing infection,” Gottlieb said. “Previously, we had data showing that the childhood vaccine for 6 months to 4 years wasn’t as protective against infection as the adult vaccine.”

“That’s the reason why they pushed it out and asked for that third dose. But now, if the goal of the vaccine is to get baseline immunity in the kids to prevent really bad outcomes, and you’re really not using the vaccine as a tool to prevent infection in the first place, two doses could do that,” he added.

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COVID-19

Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not currently showing symptoms.

“Today, Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on rapid and PCR tests,” said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president. “She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been a close contact to the President or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The Vice President will return to the White House when she tests negative.”

Harris wrote on Twitter that she was going to continue to isolate and is showing no symptoms.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Harris tweeted.

Harris last reportedly saw President Biden at the Easter Egg Roll on April 18 before leaving for California, which she returned from on April 25.

The vice president has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received two booster shots, receiving the second booster on April 1.

“Yesterday I received my second COVID-19 booster shot,” Harris tweeted on April 2. “We know that getting vaccinated is the best form of protection from this virus and boosters are critical in providing an additional level of protection. If you haven’t received your first booster—do it today.”

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