Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden hosts briefing by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Security and Coronavirus Disease Response Teams (COVID-19) on how the pandemic is affecting hurricane readiness, in the state of Din

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Tracy Rucinski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby (NYSE 🙂 said he believes more US companies and organizations will start requiring vaccines against COVID-19, following a meeting with President Joe Biden on the subject Wednesday.

“In a few weeks, this will be widespread across the country because it’s really just a basic security issue,” Kirby told CNN after the meeting.

United is among a growing list of U.S. companies that are forcing workers to fire as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations soar into areas with low vaccination rates, mainly conservative states in the southern US.

Kirby said Biden had asked people at the 30-minute meeting about their vaccination efforts and encouraged them to convince other business leaders to follow suit.

Alaska Airlines, which employs about 20,000 people, said separately that it was studying closely whether it would require vaccination of its employees.

“If we do, the requirement would not be effective until at least one vaccine is fully FDA approved and includes the appropriate religious and medical exemptions,” an Alaska Airlines spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Earlier, a White House official said Howard University president Wayne Frederick, Kaiser Permanente executive director Gregory Adams, and a South Carolina businessman who adopted a vaccination or test requirement for his workers would also attend the meeting.

Biden has approved companies and local governments that are pressuring more people to get vaccinated. His administration is also studying what authority companies have to demand vaccines, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Reuters last week.

“I will have the back and back of other public and private sector leaders if they take these steps,” the Democratic president said last week.

United announced its vaccine requirement for employees based in the United States last week and Kirby said that while some had opposed the decision, the overall response had been overwhelmingly positive.

He demanded that vaccines for passengers be more difficult, he said, citing logistical challenges.

Its main American rivals, American Airlines (NASDAQ :), Delta Air Lines (NYSE 🙂 and Southwest Airlines (NYSE :), are encouraging employee vaccines but not imposing them.

U.S. airlines have enjoyed a broad rise in travel demand this summer, but Southwest warned Wednesday that rising COVID-19 cases were affecting demand, a sign of the impact of the variant. of the Delta in the American Economy.

Among other transportation companies, U.S. passenger rail Amtrak said Wednesday it would require all 18,000 of its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or to undergo weekly testing.

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