Hollywood Union IATSE Hires Epidemiologists to Assist With COVID-19 Safety Planning

Below-the-line union becomes latest Hollywood labor group to team up with medical experts


The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has become the latest Hollywood union to add epidemiologists to its COVID-19 safety plans.

The organization announced on Monday that it has added three medical experts to its staff as it continues work to develop safety protocols for its members when film and television production is allowed to resume.

The epidemiologists include:

  • David H. Wegman, M.D., M.P.H., Emeritus Professor of Work Environment at Umass Lowell and Adjunct Professor for the Harvard School of Public Health
  • Letita Davis, ScD, EdM, director of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Gregory R. Wagner, M.D., Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The three experts will work with IATSE leadership to help develop a list of safety regulations and best practices that will be shared with other Hollywood guilds and studios, which are also developing their own safety regulations. IATSE represents workers like hair and makeup artists that must be in close proximity with other individuals to do their job, as well as stage workers on live productions that take place before audiences of thousands.

IATSE’s announcement comes a week after SAG-AFTRA announced the hiring of Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, former director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, to collaborate on its COVID-19 response plans. The Directors Guild of America has also created a task force that is consulting with epidemiologists on best practices and safety regulations.

“We want everyone to get back to work as soon as possible, but we need to do it right,” IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb said in a statement. “We are working with these epidemiologists and employers to create standards that will apply across the board in the US and Canada, so no production or worker is left behind.”