As Americans debate if, when, and how most professional sports should return during the COVID-19 pandemic, pro wrestling never left. WWE has oscillated between live and pre-taped broadcasts, but was declared an “essential business” in Florida before they ever had to shut down completely. All Elite Wrestling temporarily lost their home venue in Florida, taped several shows elsewhere, and went on hiatus, then returned to Florida and resumed live broadcasts from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville.
AEW has since been testing its wrestlers and other staff for the coronavirus before shows, and on a call with the media today, Cody talked about how the testing process works and what would happen if there was a COVID-19 case within the organization.
Responding to VultureHound, Cody said he gets his temperature checked first in the parking lot outside of Daily’s Place, then again before he can enter the office. When asked by CBS about AEW’s plan if someone at a show tests positive for COVID-19, Cody gave more details about the testing protocols. “You have scheduled-out blocks for testing,” he said, and the medical staff “are the very first individuals to be tested.”
Cody also said that “there is no cross-pollination” between the different blocks of people being tested, and that the tests aren’t done at Daily’s Place. If there’s a positive result in one of these tests, “you would then get the nose swab test to confirm the positive, or perhaps it was a false positive, but you would not be in proximity to any of the talent, to any of the crew.” The crew and talent also have “their testing measures done elsewhere” in two separate locations, and different doctors test the different testing blocks.
All these precautions mean that, in Cody’s words, “we have it set so it would not shut down the production” if there was a positive test result. He compared AEW’s protocols to those of the UFC, which recently pulled a fight from UFC 249 after a fighter (who was staying in the same hotel as AEW talent) tested positive for COVID-19 but still held the UFC 249 event. (To contrast with other pandemic-era sports, the Korean Baseball Organization plans to shut down for at least three weeks if a player tests positive.) Cody said that AEW has been “incredibly fortunate,” with no positive coronavirus test results so far.
Cody also said that AEW plans to remain at Daily’s Place as other states begin to lift restrictions on sports, telling the Miami Herald “it’s the safest decision to stay here” for the time being. When sports begin to have fans in attendance again, Cody could see Daily’s Place hosting AEW’s first event with a live audience.