Fox News host Todd Piro became a news story himself in November 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19. According to The Daily Beast, Fox News staffers say that they never got word about Piro’s COVID-19 diagnosis from the higher-ups at the conservative-leaning cable news channel. (Piro, incidentally, isn't related to fellow Fox News star “Judge Jeanine” Pirro.)
The news of Piro’s diagnosis came seven months after he and Fox & Friends First costar Rob Schmitt made light of the COVID-19 pandemic by mocking social-distancing practices, according to The Independent.
Piro joined Fox News in 2017.
Although Piro is known for his television work, he started out as a lawyer, according to his Fox News bio. After graduating from Dartmouth College and the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, Piro practiced law for five years at the Los Angeles firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.
After segueing to TV journalism, Piro served as weekday morning anchor for NBC Connecticut’s Connecticut Today and as a morning anchor for CBS Local 2 in Palm Springs, Calif. He also guest-anchored NBC’s Early Today and 1st Look.
Piro joined Fox News in June 2017 and now co-hosts Fox & Friends First on weekdays starting at 4:00 a.m. ET.
Fox News’ response to Piro’s COVID-19 diagnosis worried staffers.
Although Piro announced his COVID-19 case on Twitter on November 23, 2020, he stopped reporting to work at Fox News’ Manhattan studios two weeks earlier, according to The Daily Beast. His co-anchor, Jillian Mele, continued work in the interim.
“They’re definitely getting lax about COVID,” a staffer told the site, adding that Piro’s case was so serious that he missed the birth of his daughter. “They haven’t been mentioning names because of health data [privacy]. This place lets the anchors run the show, and their airtime is more important than our safety.”
The staffer also said, “They’re doing the minimum with regard to COVID to not get sued. Everyone is talking about him [Piro] being positive. Some are wondering why his co-anchor is still allowed in the building. … Nobody seems to care about the incubation period. The company is also going with less than 15 minutes of cumulative exposure being OK.”
Staffers, who remained anonymous for fear of retaliation, told The Daily Beast that Fox News never alerted them about possible exposure to COVID-19. In a statement to the site, a Fox News Media spokesperson said that the company had “implemented strict company-wide protocols adhering to all CDC and state guidelines” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Following the positive diagnosis of Todd Piro, the network immediately began contact tracing and all those within contact were notified,” the spokesperson added. “Notably, neither of his on-air colleagues [including news reader Carley Shimkus] were ever within six feet of Piro for 15 minutes leading up to his diagnosis, both of whom have since reported multiple negative tests following. The health and safety of employees continues to be our top priority.”