SAG-AFTRA has engaged public health expert Jonathan E. Fielding to join its team of specialists advising the union in developing and implementing new safety protocols for preventing the spread of COVID-19 when production resumes.

“COVID-19 remains a most serious health threat to all those who want and need to return to work. Therefore developing guidelines to safeguard people’s health as they work is a critical element of reopening this important industry,” Fielding said in a statement.

The union made the announcement Wednesday. Fielding served for 16 years as the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and is a distinguished professor at UCLA in the Fielding School of Public Health and the Geffen School of Medicine. His chief objective will be to work with union leaders to create a set of protocols that establish minimum safety standards and maximize the mitigation of risks associated with traditional modes of production.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said, “We are working tirelessly to establish a structure that will allow our members to safely return to work. Dr. Fielding’s expertise is a critical piece in solving the unique challenges our industry presents.”

The performers union has about 160,000 members, most of whom have been without work since the coronavirus pandemic forced shutdown orders in March.

SAG-AFTRA national executive director David P. White said, “Our goal is to create a comprehensive and practical framework for returning safely to work. Our members, like all others in the industry, want to get back to earning a living doing what they love: providing the stories and news that entertain and inform audiences around the globe. We are very pleased to have Dr. Fielding join us as a leading partner and guide in this process.”