Al Roker and Craig Melvin were given the morning off after a staffer at the Today show tested positive for the novel coronavirus. NBC is attempting to trace the contacts of the staff member, who works on the weekday third-hour show from 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, emailed employees late Sunday to tell them that the unnamed member of the team was receiving medical care for “mild symptoms” and wished them a speedy recovery.
The show will go on, but all members of the third-hour editorial team have been told to work from home Monday while the network sets out to identify everyone who has had close contact with the individual. Those people will then be told to self-isolate for some time.
The third-hour show is usually hosted by Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer, alongside co-hosts Al Roker and Craig Melvin.
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie announced at the top of Monday’s show that Melvin and Roker “have taken the morning off so we can trace their contacts, see what's going on with them.” She added: “We promise to keep you posted... They feel good. Caution is the order of the day.”
Sitting at the table around four feet apart—for the sake of social distancing— co-host Hoda Kotb said: “We're just trying to play exactly by the rules. We hope and wish that they come back soon.”
In the overnight memo to staff, which was seen by the Daily Beast, Oppenheim said NBC was working to reduce the spread of the virus among staff.
“As you know, we have been preparing for this possibility and are taking all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our teams, which includes multiple deep cleanings of our offices, control room, and Studio 1A,” said Oppenheim in the memo. “Additionally, we are identifying employees who had been in close proximity to the affected employee and—while not required to do so by the NY Health Department—are in the process of asking those who had close contact to self-isolate.”
Oppenheim said the measures were in addition to an existing plan to allow tri-state area employees to work remotely or stagger work hours.
The network president added: “We want to continue to assure you that your health and safety are our top priority, and remind you that NBCUniversal’s experienced team of medical professionals and crisis-management experts is in constant communication with authorities, and are continuously assessing the best and safest practices for all of us.”
The development comes after the show closed Rockefeller Plaza to Today fans and suspended live audiences for the show.
CBS News has also confirmed that six of its employees have tested positive, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter, and most of its New York City staffers are working from home for the foreseeable future. One has been named as the Italy-based correspondent Seth Doane, who said Monday that he caught the disease in New York before traveling to Rome and testing positive there.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the coronavirus as an “unprecedented threat” to the city Sunday when he announced that he was shutting down schools, possibly for the rest of the academic year.
The city has recorded 329 cases of COVID-19 and five have died.