There Are Now 6 Fox Newsers Who Have Contracted COVID-19

By A.J. Katz Comment

There are now six employees of Fox News Media who have contracted the coronavirus, and that number could increase.

According to a memo from Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott and Fox News president and executive editor Jay Wallace that was sent to staff on Tuesday, the two most recent cases are employees who have worked on the 43rd and 20th floors, respectively. The employee on the 43rd floor and was last in the building on March 12 and the employee on the 20th floor was last in on March 20.

“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,” Scott and Wallace wrote in the memo.

On Saturday night, the number of cases at Fox News was four.

News of the first Fox staffer to test positive for COVID-19 broke the previous day (Friday) That staffer worked on Lou Dobbs‘ Fox Business show. Dobbs and the rest of his production team are now in self-quarantine, and the host is symptom-free at the moment.

Fellow Fox Business hosts Liz Claman and Charles Payne are also in quarantine. Both are also symptom-free at the moment.

Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner has been broadcasting remotely since last week, and Dana Perino is co-hosting The Five and anchoring her 2 p.m. show The Daily Briefing from home this week.

Fox News and CBS News have both reported six cases of COVID-19 so far, and there are staffers at a number of networks who are either still experiencing symptoms, or are currently recovering. Most tragically, Larry Edgeworth, a longtime audio engineer at NBC News, and friend to many at that company, passed away last week after contracting the coronavirus.

Fox News has instituted even more changes in light of these two new cases, including  ending all contributor appearances in studio. All guests will appear via remotes.

Below, the internal memo from Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace to Fox News Media staff:

Dear colleagues,

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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