Broadcast News Reporters Must Be Given Hazmat Suits Reporting On Location About Coronavirus, Union Says

In a series of safety guidelines released on Wednesday by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), individuals reporting from areas where coronavirus is prevalent must be given proper protective gear, such as hazmat suits and respirators.

Broadcast reporters were also advised to maintain social distancing guidelines when conducting in-person interviews, although speaking with anyone who could potentially be exposed to coronavirus was discouraged.

"Assignments to hotspots should be avoided, and most employers are following this rule," the guidelines read. "If assigned to go into a hotspot, you must be provided a haz-mat suit, respirator and proper training."

Newsweek reached out to SAG-AFTRA for comment.

"Reporters should not conduct in-person interviews with individuals who are known to have been exposed or have been diagnosed with COVID-19," the guidelines continued. "All such interviews must be conducted with the use of phone, video-chat, etc."

"All other interviews shall be done in conformity with the social distancing rules established by the CDC, especially trying to conform to a six-foot distance between people when possible," the guidelines added. "If unable to do so, alternatives to in-person interviews must be performed. i.e., use of phone, video-chat, etc."

Other tips suggested by SAG-AFTRA included using disposable microphone covers, limiting equipment sharing and using personal makeup and applicators.

hazmat suit
SAG-AFTRA called on Thursday for broadcast news reporters working in areas with a high potential for coronavirus exposure to be provided with hazmat suits, such as the one pictured. Getty

These guidelines come in the wake of the announcement that employees of three major television networks were diagnosed with coronavirus.

ABC News reporter Kaylee Hartung told Good Morning America in a video interview Wednesday that she was not sure how she contracted coronavirus.

"I've had the feeling before when I've had the flu," Hartung said. "When my body's just broken down, when I've gone too hard and I've been run down. I knew something was off as soon as I woke up and that's when I started consulting medical professionals."

"By the time you have symptoms," Hartung added, "it's too late. You've already been capable of spreading this virus."

Coronavirus has made an impact on other aspects of the entertainment industry as film premieres have been rescheduled and television shows are recording in studios without live audiences. Some productions, such as Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings series, have temporarily suspended filming. Theater chains, including AMC, Regal and Landmark, have temporarily closed their locations.

Austin's annual South by Southwest festival, originally scheduled for March, was canceled due to the threat of coronavirus. Originally slated for April, this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been rescheduled for October.

Recent data indicated a total of 8,438 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. with 8,183 of those cases considered active, although 106 individuals have recovered from the virus.

Around the world, 217,539 cases of coronavirus have been reported with over 8,000 deaths attributable to the illness. However, 84,383 individuals are listed as recovered.

coronavirus, map, covid-19, countries, world
A graphic provided by Statista shows the global spread of the new coronavirus as of March 18. More than 210,000 have been afflicted, 83,000 of whom have recovered and 8,700 have died. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.