About 500 employees of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ed Bastian, chief executive officer of the airline, confirmed the spread of the disease among its employees during the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Bastian said 10 employees have also died from the disease.

“We lost 10 employees to the coronavirus; every one of them breaks my heart,” he said.

“Among other 500 employees who contracted the virus, the vast majority have recovered.”

He added that the airline is testing its approximately 90,000 employees for COVID-19 and “we will be able to provide better protection for our people and then, eventually, certainly, our customers as we go forward.”

On the economic impact of the pandemic, Bastian said the aviation industry has been hit badly.

“We shut operations in 10 airports since May until at least September,” he said.

“We could never have predicted how quickly the coronavirus pandemic would upend our plans as demand for near-term air travel dropped to almost zero in a matter of weeks.

“We are realistic that the timing and shape of revenue recovery are uncertain and are prepared that it could take up to two to three years to return to a new level of normal, which could still be lower than 2019 revenue base.”

US has a total of  2,449,476 COVID-19 cases and 124,029 deaths.