Two of the most popular live gameshows are making some major changes in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Starting Tuesday, “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” will be shot without live audiences until further notice, according to TMZ.
Sources involved with production on both shows reveal that it's unclear how long they'll go without an audience but say that it’s dependent on the severity and duration of the virus.
A source also explained that a lot of factors weighed into their decision.
One of the most important factors was not willing to compromise “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek’s health. The longtime host is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer meaning that he has a weakened immune system from chemotherapy and other treatments. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned that anyone with a compromised immune system needs to be extra cautious.
Another concern is that much of "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune's" audience is older. Many of the people making up the live audience are in their 60s.
“Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and the risk increases with age,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases recently said while giving an update about coronavirus. The highest risk of serious illness or death is in people older than 80 years old.
A third factor that plays into the decision is that many audience members travel in from out of town for a live-taping and possibly from heavily-affected areas. Production is afraid that it would greatly increase the spread of the virus not only to the audience members but also to the crew.
Trebek recently gave a health-update one year after announcing his diagnosis.
In a video shared on the "Jeopardy" Twitter account, the host revealed that he’s beating the odds.
The 79-year-old said he is now one of “18% of patients” to survive the first-year diagnosis.