Hudson & Rex crew member tests positive for COVID-19: sources
The producer of the television show Hudson & Rex is defending the on-set precautions, after a crew member became Newfoundland and Labrador’s first new case of COVID-19 since July 26, sources tell CBC News.
In a news release Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Community Services said there is one new travel-related case of COVID-19 in the province.
The provincial government says the new case is a female in the Eastern Health region, between 20 and 39 years old, who was asymptomatic while travelling on a flight from Toronto to St. John’s on Thursday.
The media release said the woman, who is not from the province and who received a travel exemption, is self-isolating, and contact tracing is underway. Anyone considered a close contact will be advised to self-isolate.
In an interview with CBC News Friday afternoon, Hudson and Rex Producer Paul Pope said all COVID-19 precautions on set were followed, and that the case was found through regular private testing.
“They have to pass a pre-screening [test] in Ontario, which they did,” Pope said. “They followed all the precautions on the airplane. Then, when they arrived in St. John’s, they were picked up by our transport, which has a divider, and [the crew member and driver] both wore masks.”
Since arriving from Ontario, Pope said, the woman has interacted with only three people: the driver of the vehicle, the medical professional who administered the test, and one other member of the crew.
“That happened yesterday, and early this morning we were informed that [the woman] tested positive for COVID,” he said. “Now it’s in the hands of public health.”
The Department of Health is asking people who travelled on the same flight — Air Canada Flight AC690 — on Thursday to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and to call the provincial 811 health line if symptoms develop.
The province’s total caseload moves to 267, with three deaths and 263 recoveries.
As of Friday, 26,479 people have been tested across the province — 199 since Thursday.
‘Toolbox’ for mitigating risk
Earlier in July, Pope outlined to CBC Radio’s On The Go how the production was minimizing coronavirus risk on set.
On July 27, filming on the program stopped for three hours after crew members from Newfoundland and Labrador raised concerns about a delay in COVID-19 test results for production members from outside the province.
“The COVID-19 toolbox that we have to mitigate the risk is extensive,” Pope said July 17, comparing the strategy to maintaining a car.
“In order for your car to drive the engine has to work. The brakes have to work. The windshield wipers have to work. The headlights have to work and, really, you can’t drive the car without all of them.”
The Hudson & Rex “toolbox,” said Pope, includes being in a safe environment — in this case, Newfoundland and Labrador, with its low number of cases — having an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, common-sense measures like physical distancing, and also testing.
Because of cast demands, Pope said in July, each episode requires three to five people from out of province, who could only come if they were asymptomatic. They are tested upon arrival and again 48 hours later, said Pope, and are put up at a hotel closed to the general public.
The crew was scheduled to resume filming on Sunday, but Pope said whether production goes ahead will depend on “science-based” advice from public health professionals.