Hudson & Rex crew member tests positive for COVID-19: sources

A crew member of the television show Hudson & Rex is 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 on Thursday. 

The 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.

Sources tell CBC News the case involves a member of the production of the Citytv show now filming its third season in St. John’s.

The province’s total caseload moves to 267, with three deaths and 263 recoveries.

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.

In an email to cast and crew at the time, obtained by CBC News, producer Paul Pope apologized for an “oversight in COVID-19 testing for our come from away cast.”

“We believed that we were operating safely under the provincial COVID-19 guidelines, but now realize that it was an error in judgment,” he wrote, adding that it wouldn’t happen again.

‘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.

“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.

As of Friday, 26,479 people have been tested across the province — 199 since Thursday. 

The next briefing on COVID-19 in the province is scheduled for Wednesday. 

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