WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon just spoke with Variety to discuss how the company is embracing new measures to protect talent and crew members during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the entertainment and live event industries have shut down during the COVID-19 outbreak, but WWE pushed ahead this week with a packed week of TV and pay-per-view tapings.
Stephanie confirmed the required medical tests before being allowed to enter the WWE Performance Center, and how anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees is automatically asked to leave.
"At a typical event, talent are milling about, they're at catering or wherever when they're not actually in part of the show," Stephanie said. "That's not allowed now. There's extensive testing and screening when you first come in the facility regardless of whether you're a talent, a crew member, or anyone else. Working with our doctors, you have your temperature taken. If you have a temperature over 100.4 degrees, you are automatically asked to leave."
Stephanie continued and revealed how they are not allowing people in the Performance Center who have been out of the country, or been in touch or in contact with anyone who's been out of the country.
"If you've been out of the country or been in touch or in contact with anybody who's been out of the country you're not allowed in the facility," she continued. "We're taking every precaution we can. It's also why you don't see talent or anyone else in the audience. We really are adhering to all the guidelines that we can to maintain the health and safety of our crew and our performers."
Variety also spoke with Dr. Thomas LaVeist, Ph.D, the dean of and a professor at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. LaVeist noted that taking temperatures constitutes "the first line of testing," but is not a foolproof method.
"You can certainly still be asymptomatic and still be a carrier and there's just no way of knowing that by just taking temperatures," LaVeist said.
Regarding the WWE tapings during the COVID-19 outbreak, WWE told Variety that segments that are filmed on closed sets are being done in waves to limit the amount of personnel in attendance. While WWE has previously stated that only "essential personnel" would be allowed on the closed sets for filming, they would not confirm to Variety exactly how many people that is. They did tell Variety that they were "adhering to/following CDC guidelines and state/local mandates." As we've noted in our report on why there were no wrestlers in AEW's Dynamite crowd this week, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) puts the restricted number at 10 people. LaVeist told Variety that this number is more of a compromise, noting that there is no safe number when it comes to what is actually safe from a public health science standpoint, as an infected person can affect any other person.
"The total number of people you have also depends on the size of the room they are in," LaVeist continued. "30 people dispersed throughout a room that's built to accommodate 300 is probably safe. It's difficult to say. In a typical size elevator, three people is too many. There's so much nuance to this that its hard for CDC to come up with recommendations that fit every circumstance."
Stephanie also commented on how a majority of the WWE talents live in the Florida area, and how they have asked all talents to remain in the Orlando, FL area during the lengthy period of tapings.
"We have a lot of talent who live in the Florida area, which is very helpful," Stephanie said. "During any type of extensive taping period we are asking all of our talent to remain in the Orlando area and not travel."
McMahon continued and commented on how everything WWE does is based on how they can best serve the fanbase.
"WWE is fan first" she said. "We are all about providing content for our fans, providing an experience for them that is worthy of their passion. They come first. Everything we do, we do through a lens of 'How can we best serve our fans?'"
Stephanie also revealed that WWE is currently experimenting with technology that would allow fans to experience WrestleMania virtually, as "ultimately what we want to do is provide our audience with that escape."
There's no word yet on plans for fans to experience WrestleMania 36 virtually, but we will keep you updated.
Stay tuned for more on the WrestleMania 36 situation. You can click here for our lengthy new report on WrestleMania 36 changes and matches on the card due to the coronavirus pandemic, and you can click here for our report on Roman Reigns backing out of his planned match with WWE Universal Champion Bill Goldberg due to concerns over his health. WrestleMania 36 will air across two nights - Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5, at 7pm ET via pay-per-view and the WWE Network.