An usher who recently worked at two Broadway theaters has tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, prompting a scramble to inform the public and clean the buildings, according to four theater industry officials who have been briefed on the situation.
The usher worked last week at performances of a new revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” now in previews at the 766-seat Booth Theater, starring Laurie Metcalf and Rupert Everett. Before that, the usher also helped manage lines at one or more performances of “Six,” a new British musical about the wives of Henry VIII, which is in previews at the 1,031-seat Brooks Atkinson Theater. The officials briefed on the matter declined to be identified because they had not been authorized to speak about it; they said they expected the theater owners to make the diagnosis public later on Wednesday.
The usher is now quarantined, and the person’s medical condition is not clear. Nor was it clear when the usher began showing symptoms, which can arise between 2 and 14 days of infection.
Both shows are expected to perform as scheduled on Wednesday night. The Shubert Organization, which operates the Booth, subjected that building to a deep clean on Wednesday, according to three people who were told about the measure. The Brooks Atkinson is operated by the Nederlander Organization.
The diagnosis comes as Broadway is endeavoring to keep its shows running during a widening public health crisis. There are currently 31 plays and musicals open, and the industry has taken a variety of steps, including recommending an end to interactions between fans and performers at stage doors, in an effort to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Governments in several European countries have taken steps that have forced the closings of local theaters, and on Wednesday Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington banned gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle area, affecting its prestigious nonprofits, Seattle Rep and the 5th Avenue Theater.