CNN has fired three employees for coming to the office unvaccinated against COVID-19.
All employees working in its offices or in the field had been required to be fully vaccinated. CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a memo to staff on Thursday that the cable news channel has “a zero-tolerance policy on this” and fired the three staffers after finding out that they had been coming to the office unvaccinated for this past week.
“You need to be vaccinated to come to the office,” Zucker said. “And you need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not. Period.”
Employees so far have not been required to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. CNN had been relying on an “honor system.”
“Thus far, we have left proof of vaccination to an honor system. While we have asked for attestation to your status via Passcard, it has not been mandatory to produce a vaccine card,” Zucker wrote.
“In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated. Let me be clear—we have a zero-tolerance policy on this.”
Zucker added in his memo that in the future, CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, may roll out a formal process that would require staffers to provide proof of inoculation.
“You need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not. Period. We expect that in the weeks ahead, showing proof of vaccination may become a formal part of the WarnerMedia Passcard process. Regardless, our expectations remain in place,” he continued.
The cable network’s planned office return date will also be postponed from Sept. 7 to “early to mid October” due to a rise in cases in the United States. The majority of CNN’s U.S. offices are currently operating on a voluntary basis for those who are fully vaccinated.
“It goes without saying that even in places that we don’t mandate it, anyone who wants to wear a mask should absolutely do so. These decisions can be very personal for people—no two situations are the same,” Zucker wrote. “Continue to take care of yourselves and each other.”
Other news organizations including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico are also requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, or if they want to return to the office.
Vaccine passport-type systems have been flagged by civil liberties groups and Republicans as unconstitutional. They argue that they violate basic civil liberties including the right to privacy, and that the systems would create a two-tiered society of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
The United States on Monday hit President Joe Biden’s goal of administering at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 70 percent of American adults—a month behind schedule. Biden had originally aimed to reach that target by July 4.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Aug. 5, 193,199,353 people had received at least one dose, while 165,637,566 people were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.