Only employees who must work onsite will be allowed access to the offices and must remain masked regardless of vaccination status, CNN President Jeff Zucker in a memo to workers.
“We are doing this out of an abundance of caution,” Zucker said, according to Reuters. “And it will also protect those who will be in the office by minimizing the number of people who are there.”
The directive was confirmed by CNN commentator Brian Stelter in a Twitter post.
“Like other major media companies, CNN is making changes due to the new Covid surge,” Stelter quoted the memo as saying. The directive “essentially” means CNN is going “back to 2020 protocols” around COVID-19, Stelter said.
Earlier this year, CNN executives issued a rule requiring proof of vaccination for in-the-field and office workers, meaning the company likely has an exceptionally high vaccination rate. Over the summer, the network fired three employees for coming back to work without having received the vaccine, while Zucker at the time asserted that his company has a “zero-tolerance policy” over vaccines.
The Omicron variant, meanwhile, has prompted businesses, schools, and venues to shut down—although data is still being gathered to determine whether the variant causes more symptoms than the Delta variant. South African health ministry officials said on Dec. 17 that based on government data, the number of Omicron variant patients in the hospital is one-tenth that of Delta patients during its initial phase.
In New York state, authorities said they recorded a record number of COVID-19 cases in a single day. On Dec. 17, the state said that 21,000 people tested positive a day earlier, topping the previous record that was set in January.
“This is changing so quickly. The numbers are going up exponentially by day,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, told CNN.
Harvard University, Stanford University, and Cornell University—which all have exceptionally high vaccination rates—announced they would shut their campuses due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days. Cornell said it had shut down its campus in Ithaca, New York, and moved to “alert level red.”
Cornell officials reported some 900 COVID-19 cases in the past week—with many being the Omicron variant. The school has a 99 percent vaccination rate.
The public school system in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, located near Washington, said last week that students will move to a virtual learning format until the middle of next month, due to an uptick in countywide COVID-19 cases. On Dec. 15, three Prince George’s County schools were forced to shutter due to the virus.