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US Fact check: Delta on track to comply with federal vaccine mandate, CEO says

05:55  29 october  2021
05:55  29 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Fact check: Southwest will comply with federal vaccine mandate, but employees won't be fired over it

  Fact check: Southwest will comply with federal vaccine mandate, but employees won't be fired over it Southwest Airlines’ CEO said he doesn’t support corporate mandates and won’t be firing anyone over one, but the company has said it will comply.But one post on social media claims the company’s stance is the opposite.

The claim: Delta Air Lines is ditching the vaccine mandate, following Southwest Airlines 'strike'

False claims about airlines refusing to comply with President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate continue to spread across social media. The latest target is Delta Air Lines.

"Delta airlines (sic) have announced they are ditching the vaccine mandates for employees," reads a screengrab of a tweet shared on Instagram Oct. 17.

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The image received more than 31,000 likes in three days. Similar posts have also accumulated hundreds of shares in just a few days on Facebook.

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The image shared on Instagram is a now-deleted tweet from conservative European blogger Peter Imanuelsen.

Imanuelsen told USA TODAY in an email he deleted his tweet because he learned that Delta required some employees to be vaccinated and would have a monthly surcharge for unvaccinated employees on their health plan, which he said is a moral mandate.

More: Fact? Fiction? USA TODAY's experts will check your facts via text

The text also claims the airline "ditched" the mandate after a pilot "strike" at Southwest Airlines that many social media users have falsely claimed led to the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights in October.

The claim that there was a pilot "strike" at Southwest is false. The union representing Southwest pilots confirmed there weren't any "work slowdowns or sickouts" related to the mandate.

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Delta created its own plan in August to encourage its employees to get vaccinated, unrelated to the federal mandate that Biden announced on Sept. 10. The company hasn't "ditched" the mandate as it continues to require the vaccine for its employees, in line with the federal requirements.

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USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who posted the claim for comment.

Delta's plan to get workers vaccinated

In an Aug. 25 companywide memo to employees, Bastian announced the company would put in place a series of measures "effective immediately" for employees who hadn't been vaccinated yet.

Those included requirements to wear masks in all indoor company settings, weekly COVID-19 tests starting Sept. 12, and a $200 monthly surcharge in the company's health care plan starting Nov. 1 to "address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company."

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"While we can be proud of our 75% vaccination rate, the aggressiveness of the (delta) variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible," Bastian said in the memo.

Fact check: Southwest will comply with federal vaccine mandate, but employees won't be fired over it

The plan unveiled in August is still in place.

As of Oct. 13, the company had reached a vaccination rate of 90% among its employees, Bastian told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He added that he expects 95% of employees will be vaccinated by November.

After religious and medical exemptions, Bastian said there will be between 1% and 2% of employees unvaccinated across the company.

Delta not against mandates

Delta is not against vaccine mandates, Bastian told Cheddar News on Oct. 19. The company is still requiring the vaccine.

In fact, the company has had a vaccine mandate for all new hires in the U.S. since mid-May.

"What the (federal vaccine) mandate was trying to do is for companies that don't have plans to get their people vaccinated," Bastian told Cheddar News. "We already had our plan. We're well ahead of the president by a month."

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Bastian said he doesn't agree with the federal mandate because it's "the government making a decision for" the workers.

Bastian added that he didn't like the idea of threatening to fire employees if they refused vaccination.

He believes that most Delta employees will accept the vaccine with the current consequences in place and that Delta won't have to resort to threatening termination before the mandate's deadline to achieve vaccination for all or nearly all of its workforce.

"With any additional exemptions, we'll be effectively fully vaccinated without having to go through all the divisiveness of a mandate," he said.

Fact check: Delta debunks rumor that vaccinated pilot died mid-flight

Delta, which often has government contracts with the Department of Defense, is directly affected by Biden's vaccine mandate, which requires impacted companies to have their workforce vaccinated before Dec. 8.

Federal contractors and their employees can request accommodations to avoid vaccination due to religious or medical reasons but they can't opt out of the vaccine through COVID-19 testing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Delta is on track to have all its employees fully vaccinated by the deadline, Bastian told the Journal-Constitution. He said the company will follow all executive order requirements.

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Southwest Airlines also complies with mandate

The Instagram post claims that Delta "ditched" the mandate after seeing a Southwest Airlines "pilot strike," furthering the false narrative that there was one and that the company stopped following the federal mandate.

First, about the pilot strike: It's not true. USA TODAY reported the union representing the company's pilots confirmed "there are no work slowdowns or sickouts" related to the vaccine mandate.

The claim started after a pilot association asked a Texas federal judge to block the airline's COVID-19 vaccine mandate until a lawsuit is resolved.

Social media posts also claimed the "strike" triggered mass flight cancellations. The flight cancellations were caused due to poor weather and air traffic control issues, not the inexistent strike.

Fact check: Pfizer's FDA-approved vaccine is available in US

The second claim in the social media post is that the airline has stopped following the vaccine mandate.

That's also false.

Southwest's CEO Gary Kelly said he doesn't support corporate mandates and won't be firing workers over it, but it will comply with Biden's mandate, USA TODAY reported.

All employees must be vaccinated or approved for an accommodation by Dec. 8, similarly to Delta employees.

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A similar claim about the federal vaccine mandate and airlines has also gained traction online. USA TODAY debunked that U.S. flights in August were backed up because airline employees refused vaccination.

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Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Delta is ditching the federal vaccine mandate following a Southwest Airlines "strike." The company developed its own plan before the federal mandate was revealed in September. According to Delta's plan, employees who haven't gotten vaccinated are required to wear face masks, receive weekly COVID-19 tests and pay a $200 monthly surcharge in the company's health care plan. Delta's CEO said the company is not against mandates and will comply with federal requirements come Dec. 8, the deadline for impacted companies to report their workforces have been vaccinated. Southwest Airlines didn't have a "pilot strike" or "sickout" as many social media posts claim, and it is also following the mandate.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Melissa McDeid, Oct. 16, Facebook post
  • Twitter, accessed Oct. 27, Advanced search
  • USA TODAY, Oct. 11, Fact check: Southwest Airlines, union deny rumor that pilot sickout caused flight delays
  • Southwest Airlines Pilot Association, Oct. 10, Statement
  • Fox News, Oct. 14, Delta Air Lines CEO ditches ‘divisive’ COVID vaccine mandate; marks 90% employee vaccination rate
  • USA TODAY, Sept. 10, Who is covered by Biden's new vaccine mandates and when do they go into effect? Here's what we know.
  • Delta Air Lines, Aug. 25, Bastian memo to employees outlines COVID vaccine updates
  • Cheddar News, Oct. 19, Delta Airlines CEO on Recovery Mode, Vaccine Strategy and the Future of Air Travel
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 13, Delta says 90% of employees are now vaccinated
  • Delta, May 14, Delta to require new hires in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Department of Defense, Aug. 22, Department of Defense Activates Civil Reserve Air Fleet to Assist With Afghanistan Efforts
  • USA TODAY, Sept. 9, 'Patience is wearing thin': Biden rolls out vaccine requirements that will affect 100 million workers
  • The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 19, GE, Union Pacific Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine for U.S. Workers
  • USA TODAY, Oct. 18, Fact check: Southwest will comply with federal vaccine mandate, but employees won't be fired over it
  • USA TODAY, Aug. 11, Fact check: Flight cancellations due to weather, labor shortage, not vaccine mandates
  • Peter Imanuelsen, Oct. 28, Email exchange with USA TODAY

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Democrat Kansas governor rejects Biden's vaccine mandate

  Democrat Kansas governor rejects Biden's vaccine mandate The 71-year-old governor of Kansas is up for re-election in 2022. Gov. Laura Kelly said it was 'too late' for a broad federal COVID-19 mandate because states already have developed plans.Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, who is up for re-election in 2022, released a statement on Saturday announcing that her state is rejecting Biden's vaccine order for private businesses that employ more than 100 people.

Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Delta on track to comply with federal vaccine mandate, CEO says

Democrat Kansas governor rejects Biden's vaccine mandate .
The 71-year-old governor of Kansas is up for re-election in 2022. Gov. Laura Kelly said it was 'too late' for a broad federal COVID-19 mandate because states already have developed plans.Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, who is up for re-election in 2022, released a statement on Saturday announcing that her state is rejecting Biden's vaccine order for private businesses that employ more than 100 people.

usr: 3
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