ABC News Breakfast hosts self isolate following crew member’s exposure to COVID-19

ABC News Breakfast’s hosting line up looked different this morning, with Lisa Millar, Michael Rowland, and Nate Byrne forced to isolate at home after a crew member was exposed to COVID-19.

The floor manager found out after yesterday’s show that his wife had tested positive to the virus. Last night, Rowland explained on social media that ABC management had decided the team should self-isolate as a precautionary measure, until the floor manager receives his test result.

The temporary hosts crossed to Rowland and Miller this morning, who explained the situation

“This goes above and beyond Health Department requirements, but this precaution is being taken for the wellbeing of other ABC staff in Melbourne, and in the interests of public safety,” Rowland wrote.

“Importantly, Jo’s wife Laura is ok, as is [floor manager] Jo.”

Some news: Lisa, Nate and yours truly won't be presenting News Breakfast tomorrow. The wife of our fabulous floor…

Posted by Michael Rowland ABC on Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The trio will be temporarily replaced by Madeline Morris, Ben Knight and Georgie Tunny, but Rowland and Millar still made an appearance via video call this morning to explain their absence.

“It was a lot to take in yesterday,” Rowland admitted. “Things did move very very quickly, and full credit to the ABC for taking quick and decisive action once we learnt Laura, Jo’s wife, had coronavirus.

“So there was a flurry last night organising this, for home broadcasting and the like.”

Millar said she spoke to Jo, the floor manager, a number of times overnight. “I was worried about how he would be feeling about this,” she said.

“Of course, he’s anxious because we’re still waiting for the test result for him. He also is feeling really bad because he thinks that somehow they have caused all of this, which is so ridiculous, because we’re only worried about Laura, his wife … She had no symptoms, so she was so shocked to hear that she was positive.”

Jo’s wife Laura was being regularly tested due to the industry she works in and did not experience any symptoms before her positive result.

Viewers have already begun writing in to thank the team for being “overly cautious” and going “above and beyond”, setting an example for other workplaces, Millar added.

Before this, ABC News Breakfast staff members had already been split into two teams to minimise the risk of transmission, with some viewers asking why some people were working from home or a different studio.

“This is why. This is the well-thought out plan coming into action,” Rowland said.

“It applies to programs all across the ABC. I know [7:30 host] Leigh Sales has what looks like a very professional home studio set up in her place. This is the ABC making sure that every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed, because sadly, particularly here in Victoria, coronavirus is still out there.”

Victoria is expected to record more than 700 new cases today, and experience a record day for deaths from COVID-19. Previously, Sunday was the worst day for deaths, with 10 confirmed, and Monday’s 532 was the worst day for new cases.

Rowland noted that while the team has been reporting on COVID-19 for months, “it’s not until you have a deeply personal confrontation with this disease, as we all had yesterday care of Jo and Laura, who we love a lot, that it really hits you hard.”

TV shows across all networks have been impacted by COVID-19, as social distancing requirements and positive test results have ground production to a halt, or changed the format given the impossibility of live audiences.


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