COVID-19 and your station
Things you can do to reduce risk
There are some quite simple and inexpensive strategies and tactics that you can adopt to reduce the chances of having a COVID-19 outbreak at your station.
The most important single thing you can do is be vigilant. None of these suggestions provides a guarantee, but they will all help. One of them might make the difference between being able to remain live and having to shut the doors.
- Advise presenters to come to the station only to do their shift
- Don’t allow anyone to come in if they feel sick.
- Emphasise the need for everyone to sign in in case they have to be tracked or notified later
- Do interviews by phone or telepresence, rather than with live guests
- Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex, Messenger, and a number of other tools provide audio that is better quality than the phone.
- Telepresence tools allow you to combine multiple guests into a single feed, and that takes pressure off the number of channels your desk needs
- Check with your techs to see if those tools can be made available
- Make mission-critical areas of the station off limits to everyone but specific persons, such as:
- office: restrict to staff
- tech area: restrict to tech (you do that anyway, yes?)
- Switch studios between programs, and use prep time to do a spot clean of the work surfaces
- Provide handwipes, soap, hand disinfectant and lots of water
- Empty bins frequently
- Put up lots of signs to remind people of some science:
- soap and detergent will render the virus unable to work, and here’s why. The virus isn’t killed, but the surfactant will neutralise it and then it eventually “dies”
- gloves will protect your skin, but stuff sticks to gloves too and can be transferred into your body if you touch your face with the glove
- face masks probably don’t help unless the pores are smaller than a virus
- Point people to the Technorama website and particularly the resources tab
- Order additional pop shields, allocate one per presenter, and
- make the presenter responsible for washing it, OR
- institute a policy of washing pop shields within the station
- Consider using disposable covers, but remember that overlay materials might not work in the way you hope:
- a virus is microscopic, and can easily penetrate a filter that might stop bacteria. The filter pore size must be smaller than a virus or it’s not going to achieve much
- you don’t want a virus to be trapped where you can’t see it, lying in wait behind the cover to be transferred back to you or someone else.
- Use isopropyl alcohol and other antiseptics to wipe down surfaces and electronics (including the panel).
- if you are using a liquid antiseptic, either spray it onto a cloth and apply it from the cloth, or pour liquid into a small container (like a bottle cap) so that you don’t pollute the supply. Microfibre cloths are perfect for cleaning. Plus they are reusable: just wash them in detergent.
- Don’t confuse antiseptics with antibacterials or disinfectants. They are different three different substances with different properties
- Don’t use disinfectants on equipment, people, or anything through which a person might breathe unless the disinfectant is explicitly certified safe for breathing. Even then it’s not a good idea, because people have allergies and your favourite disinfectant might be one of them
- Wash fader knobs occasionally with soap and water. An electric toothbrush (or even a manual toothbrush) is a good tool to use. BUT: don’t pull knobs off unless you are absolutely sure that you know how, and have been cleared to do so by your tech.
- Reposition OB gear outside the station and test it to ensure that you could use it to stay on-air if the station has to be quarantined
- Have a fully tested copy of your automation system (hardware, software, and library) located off-site.
- Confirm that you can do voice-tracking and remote schedule management so that programs can be created and changed from offsite
- Use your station’s social media groups to stay in contact with other presenters, but remember that if the group is open your discussion could be read by people who will misinterpret the messaging.