Even as some studios, networks and agencies contemplate a return to the office, others are seeing Covid outbreaks among employees as cases surge across Los Angeles.
The latest is a cluster of 18 infections at WME, as reported today on the Los Angeles County Public Health Department dashboard. The agency’s outbreak is the second largest of those currently listed by the county, behind only the 20 cases reported by the Chik-fil-A near Magic Mountain.
The WME cases were not on the list on May 12 — the last time Deadline checked it — so they would have been tallied by health officials in the last two weeks. Deadline reached out to WME and will add any comment we receive.
WME employees returned to the office months ago. Deadline reported that the agency’s plans for a return included everyone being vaccinated and wearing masks in compliance with L.A. County’s (then) indoor mask mandate. That mandate was lifted March 3.
Warner Bros., which had some employees return today on a hybrid schedule, saw a cluster of three cases, which is the lowest number that require reporting by the county. It had a total of 10 cases in two clusters in that mid-May report.
Also in mid-May, Lionsgate had a cluster of 21 cases after a number of staffers tested positive after returning home from CinemaCon. That was after it recorded six cases in late April.
Cases have risen rapidly in L.A. over the past two weeks, with the 7-day rolling average number of daily cases already about 1,000 above last summer’s Delta wave peak. The 7-day average daily test positivity has jumped nearly 25% in the past week, quite a rise for a data point that is averaged to smooth out the peaks and valleys associated with lags in test reporting.
The good news is that the number of showbiz outbreaks is actually down compared to last month, when the industry accounted for 18% of outbreaks in the county. There are only two this week.
What’s also true is that entertainment entities — especially those involved in production — have among the highest testing rates of any sector, which can lead to overindexing on cases compared to businesses that don’t test frequently.
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