SAG-AFTRA today announced that Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, MPA has joined SAG-AFTRA’s team of specialists advising the union in developing and implementing new safety protocols for preventing the spread of COVID-19 when production resumes.
A nationally-recognized expert in public health preparedness and communication, Fielding brings decades of public health expertise to the mission of charting a safe path forward for SAG-AFTRA members as the entertainment industry considers reopening. His chief objective will be to work with union leaders to create a set of protocols that establish minimum safety standards and maximize the mitigation of risks associated with traditional modes of production.
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said,“We are working tirelessly to establish a structure that will allow our members to safely return to work. Dr. Fielding’s expertise is a critical piece in solving the unique challenges our industry presents.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David P. White said, “Our goal is to create a comprehensive and practical framework for returning safely to work. Our members, like all others in the industry, want to get back to earning a living doing what they love: providing the stories and news that entertain and inform audiences around the globe. We are very pleased to have Dr. Fielding join us as a leading partner and guide in this process.”
“COVID 19 remains a most serious health threat to all those who want and need to return to work. Therefore developing guidelines to safeguard people’s health as they work is a critical element of reopening this important industry,” said Fielding.
Fielding served as Public Health Director and Health Officer for Los Angeles County for 16 years and is currently Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management and of Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Fielding is a cum laude graduate of the Harvard School of Medicine and holds an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as an MBA from the Wharton School of Business Administration. Fielding previously served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) committee, which provides a vision for preventing and responding to national health security threats. He was the long serving Chair of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services appointed by the CDC Director. He is a frequent presenter on public health and safety, epidemiology, emergency preparedness, disease prevention and infectious disease.
The entertainment industry was among the first to be impacted by COVID-19, and, with work typically being done in large groups, in close proximity and without PPE, it is expected to be one of the last to be able to come back safely.
Always a core union function, protecting and promoting member safety has never been more important than it is now, with the industry-wide focus shifting to conversations about returning to work.
Fielding’s work with the union will begin immediately, starting with a thorough evaluation of data available from leading public health organizations such as the CDC, World Health Organization and municipal public health agencies; and from labor relations and industrial sanitation and safety representatives of studios, networks and industry-related organizations around the world. This data-based assessment will inform the union’s recommendations, which will in turn be brought to our labor allies, sister unions and global entertainment and media industry employers for discussion, input and alignment on minimum uniform safety standards. The resulting protocol will look at all stages of the production process from socially distanced casting to pre-production testing to regular temperature monitoring, zoned production and rigorous sanitation measures to guidance on personal considerations on limiting exposure outside of production.