As the 2022-2023 theatrical season begins, audiences and theatre-makers alike may feel like they’re finally putting the COVID-induced shutdown behind them. Restrictions are loosening, if not being completely repealed. However, there are people who continue to focus on ensuring the health and safety of casts, crews, and audiences: COVID Safety Supervisors. Mariah-Lynn Andrews, Curriculum Resource Manager, chatted with Roundabout’s COVID Safety Supervisor for You Will Get Sick, Giles Horne, to learn more about his job and what it entails.
MARIAH-LYNN ANDREWS: What is a COVID Safety Supervisor? What are your responsibilities?
GILES HORNE: The COVID Safety Supervisor is the individual responsible for communicating with producers and our epidemiologist to oversee the implementation of COVID health and safety protocols and COVID testing for all people involved on a production from load in to load out. They also are responsible for contact tracing any positive cases and alerting the cast, staff, and unions of a positive case on a production. We keep an individual file for each production member that has all of their relevant information that helps keeps them and the production safe (such as testing results/information, potential exposures, etc.).
MLA: What’s something about your role that might surprise someone?
GH: The COVID Safety Supervisor is joined by the Covid Safety Manager (Jordan Goldston, for You Will Get Sick) and together they must collect saliva samples, in house, from each production member for a saliva-based PCR test that we send out to a laboratory. The COVID Safety Supervisor must also have a close relationship with almost every person on a production, as we deal with each individual's health and safety from the crew to the ushers. The COVID Safety Team must be a calm and sturdy presence for people to come to, to ask questions, and report symptoms. It is also important to have a rapport with your production members in case one of our saliva PCR tests returns positive and you must call to inform the production member of their result and complete contact tracing.
MLA: How have your responsibilities evolved over time?
GH: As COVID and its variants continue to evolve daily, so do protocols and testing. The Covid Safety Supervisor must keep up with the news and recent updates from WHO and the CDC's findings regarding COVID. We must also listen to our production epidemiologist as she continues to analyze her findings regarding the virus and ask her questions about each positive situation within our production. After updates from both resources, many times safety protocols and testing cadences will shift to fit the new information.
MLA: Do you think health and safety managers, supervisors, etc. will become standard practice outside of just COVID?
GH: I do think a Health and Safety Supervisor/Manager is beneficial to a production outside of just COVID safety. It's a position in which the sole responsibility would be to deal with any sickness within a production and mitigate the risk of whatever sickness spreading to other production members. I think we will continue to deal with COVID for many years and will need to have a check in for it as well as the many other viruses that can sweep through a show. I think a Health and Safety Supervisor is a great way to avoid a slow down in production and dodge having to cancel any performances.