United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has told employees that 3,000 employees are currently positive for COVID-19. But crediting United’s vaccine mandate, Kirby noted that not one vaccinated employee is currently hospitalized or has recently died due to COVID-19.
With 3,000 United Airlines Employees Positive For COVID-19, CEO Credits Vaccine Mandate For Lack Of Hospitalizations and Deaths
There are currently about 3,000 United Airlines employees who are positive for COVID-19 according to an internal memo reviewed by Live and Let’s Fly. This has impacted operations, with some stations battling a severe shortage of workers. For example, United recently had nearly 1/3 of its workforce at Newark Liberty International Airport call in sick on one day alone.
When United Airlines announced the vaccine mandate to employees in August 2021, it framed it as a way to protect employees from hospitalization or death due to COVID-19:
[W]e have learned a lot about this disease, including how vaccines are – by far – the most effective way to protect people from COVID-19. In fact, we know now that an unvaccinated person is about 50 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than a vaccinated person and nearly 300 times more likely to die.
Those stats are incredibly compelling and led us to an important decision about your safety: This fall, every U.S.-based United employee will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine…
This week, Kirby is crediting United’s vaccine mandate for protecting employees during the omicron surge:
[O]ur vaccine requirement is working – and saving lives. While we have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID, zero of our vaccinated employees are currently hospitalized.
Since our vaccine policy went into effect, the hospitalization rate among our employees has been 100x lower than the general population in the U.S. Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from COVID.
But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees – based on United’s prior experience and the nationwide data related to COVID fatalities among the unvaccinated, that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement.
Even as the efficacy of vaccinations has been called into question due to the contagiousness of the omicron variant, Kirby insists a mandate was the right move:
In dealing with COVID, zero is the word that matters – zero deaths and zero hospitalizations for vaccinated employees. And while I know that some people still disagree with our policy, United is proving that requiring the vaccine is the right thing to do because it saves lives.
United will proactively cancel flights in the days and weeks ahead as it deals with lingering staff shortages, with a plan to cancel early enough to be able to re-accommodate passengers in advance of their travel day.
United Airlines currently has about 3,000 employees who are positive for COVID-19. While that number is high, CEO Kirby credits United’s vaccine for the lack of hospitalization and deaths amongst the infected.
image: United Airlines