Fox News Says Two More Employees Tested Positive For Coronavirus; Will Further Restrict In-Studio Guests, In-Office Work
Fox News said Tuesday that two more employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing to six the number of staffers who have contracted the illness.
In a memo to employees today, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace wrote that one of the employees worked on the 43rd floor and was last in their New York headquarters March 12, and another worked on the 20th floor and was in the office March 20.
“We expect to continue receiving reports of more positive tests given New York is now at the epicenter and we will be communicating to all employees affected who are currently working at 1211 and not able to work remotely,” they wrote. “The vast majority of our workforce is now telecommuting so they have not had to weather the issues around each positive case.”
All of the major news outlets have reported cases of the coronavirus, while a number of on-air personalities are working from home out of an abundance of caution. On Tuesday, Robin Roberts announced she will begin co-anchoring ABC’s Good Morning America from her home out of concerns of being vulnerable to a serious illness because she has a pre-existing condition.
Scott and Wallace said that the six Fox News employees who have the virus “are recovering and feeling as well as can be expected, with most of them experiencing only minor symptoms.”
They also said that they have put in place additional protocols to further reduce the number of employees in the network’s New York office. That includes completely ceasing in-studio bookings and contributor appearances, with those figures appearing remotely. The majority of video editors will be working remotely in New York and Washington. They also said that there may be additional programming changes because of the reduction.
The complete memo is below:
We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on all of the steps we are taking to protect the health and safety of our employees during this crisis.
As you know, we have communicated every positive test we have received to the entire FOX News Media operation. As expected, we have two more cases in the New York office which brings the total to six and all individuals affected have been notified. One employee worked on the 43rd floor and was last in the building on March 12 and another employee worked on the 20th floor and was last in on March 20.
We expect to continue receiving reports of more positive tests given New York is now at the epicenter and we will be communicating those to all employees affected who are currently working at 1211 and not able to work remotely. The vast majority of our workforce is now telecommuting so they have not had to weather the issues around each positive case.
On the advice of medical professionals, we have personally contacted all individuals who may have been affected and have instructed everyone who worked directly with these two employees to self-quarantine. We are continuing to take every necessary precaution and to follow every protocol, which includes deep cleaning all surfaces these employees were in contact with, in addition to the daily sanitizing and disinfecting that has been performed several times a day throughout all areas of the building, as well as density and interaction reductions. Extensive commercial grade cleaning procedures started on February 26 throughout our entire operation and have continued multiple times a day, especially with all shared spaces and common areas.
We are happy to report that all six employees who have tested positive are recovering and feeling as well as can be expected, with most of them only expressing minor symptoms. We wish all of them a speedy recovery and want to take this opportunity to remind you of the basics in this new normal for the health and safety of all of employees:
Please wash your hands frequently and practice good hygiene for the health and protection of everyone working in our buildings right now. Just as importantly, keep your distance while working in the office – everything that can be done by phone or Zoom even on the same floor or building should be. Additionally, please take your temperature each morning before coming to work — on the advice of doctors we have been in constant consultation with, anyone with a temperature above 100.4°F should not be entering any of our buildings.
As we communicated in the first employee network-wide conference call address on March 6 and in multiple memos since then, we advise all employees to immediately alert their manager or HR partner if they have either had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR if they have been in close contact/are living with anyone who has it. Any contact along these lines may warrant self-quarantine.
Additionally, as we have previously stated, if you are sick, please make your manager aware and do not come into the building if you are not already telecommuting. As always, there are multiple resources available to all employees, which include telemedicine options and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), both of which are detailed on our intranet site, Backstage.
To that end, we have put the following protocols into place in an effort to further reduce the footprint in New York and limit interaction as much as possible:
1) We have completely ceased in-studio bookings across both linear platforms and all guests are appearing remotely or via Skype.
2) We have now ceased all contributor appearances in studio and all are appearing via remotes.
3) The majority of our video editors will now be working remotely in both NY and DC.
4) Our hair & makeup teams have been completely reduced in the New York and DC bureaus.
5) MPG has transitioned to a mostly remote schedule.
6) Programming changes will continue to be enacted on some of our platforms as needed with a reduction in schedules wherever possible. Our programming leadership team is continuously working on this and will communicate any directives.
Reminders – Food & Transportation:
For our New York employees — the 3rd floor café is open from 7:30-3:00PM weekdays. This is an alternative to the breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks we are providing seven days a week.
For our DC employees — we opened up the Monumental Market so everyone could pick up free drinks and snacks. Last Friday, we started providing three grab-and-go meals to everyone coming into the bureau, which will continue seven days a week.
We are providing a $75 a day stipend and an Uber business code to travel to and from work if needed.
If you do not have the essential workforce ID badge that we created for all employees who are not telecommuting, please contact your manager.
We are extremely proud of everyone who has worked incredibly hard to keep our operations running so seamlessly during this crisis while providing a public service to Americans 24/7.
We will continue to keep you informed on a regular basis.
Thank you for everything,
Suzanne & Jay
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