Pro wrestling shut down by virus after Florida governor deemed it 'essential'

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WWE canceled its taping after a wrestler tested positive for the coronavirus.

WWE shut down an event taping scheduled for Tuesday after one of its wrestlers tested positive for the coronavirus. This comes just two months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis exempted the pro wrestling company from social distancing rules, deeming it an "essential" business.

According to Wrestling Observer, World Wrestling Entertainment, which operates as WWE, announced Monday that one of its performers had tested positive after appearing on last week's broadcast. The publication noted that "all key members of the staff that works the shows as well as all the talent" were set to be tested Tuesday, "which would be the first COVID-19 testing the company has done."

This is not the first time a WWE employee has tested positive. According to the New York Post, a nonwrestling performer tested positive in April. The company said at the time that its "employee had no contact with anyone from WWE since being exposed ... is doing well, and made a complete recovery."

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As Florida's Republican governor issued stay-at-home orders and closed some businesses in April, he specifically exempted professional wrestling from adhering to the rules.

He said the decision to exclude "employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience—including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production—only if the location is closed to the general public" was justified "because they are critical to Florida’s economy."

The chief executive officer of WWE is Vince McMahon, a close ally of Donald Trump. Its former CEO, Linda McMahon, served as administrator of the Small Business Administration under Trump and now runs a pro-Trump super PAC.

Florida reported a state record-high 2,783 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday — its third record in a week. The spike has come since DeSantis moved to reopen much of the state's economy.

DeSantis has called his easing of social distancing rules a "smart, safe, step-by-step approach to re-opening."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.