Most television series halted production weeks ago in the face of the escalating coronovirus pandemic, yet some reality shows have reportedly still been filming up until this week.
As The Hollywood Reporter reports, TLC’s “My 600-lb Life” had been continuing to film in three states — Texas, Florida and Mississippi — where formal statewide stay-at-home orders have yet to be issued, despite recommendations of social distancing and self-isolating.
The series features morbidly obese people attempting to qualify for laproscopic surgery, with the Centers for Disease Control categorizing those with extreme obesity among one of the highest risk groups with respect to COVID-19.
The company that produces the show for TLC, Texas-based Megalomedia, issued a statement to THR: “The health and safety of Megalomedia’s show participants and employees is always our top priority, now more than ever. We continue to comply with all local, state, and federal guidelines that cover this unprecedented pandemic. ‘My 600-lb Life’ is not filming with a single participant at this time.”
TLC also responded with a statement: “The safety of our show talent, crews and employees is our top priority. Production on ‘My 600-lb Life’ has stopped and will not resume until the crisis is resolved. It is our sincere wish that our talent, crews and their families are being safe and staying healthy during this unprecedented time.”
However, THR has obtained call sheets and wrap sheets indicating the show had been filming between March 20 and 26.
“Sources say that they fear the number of crew members required to shoot the show and the rigours of production put the show’s subjects, many of whom are already particularly vulnerable, at increased risk for the virus,” THR notes
In addition, THR obtained text of internal company group chats and a recent hot sheet in which members of the crew mention that one show subject’s hospital “was on lockdown and was not letting the crew in to film.” That same cast member then “refused to take a trip to Houston for the show out of fear of the coronavirus.”
That cast member reportedly asked not to mention the coronavirus during filming, while another was described in a group chat as “feeling anxious about the coronavirus and attending a doctor’s appointment for the show.”
“These cast members have a compromised immune systems already. They’re not okay. They’re not feeling comfortable,” a source told THR. “It’s super dangerous and none of us wants to be the person who gives it to the cast member.”
As for why the members of the crew — who are generally freelancers — continued to film despite the warnings, the source explained, “Everyone’s scared to lose their jobs.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.