The one industry struggling to figure out how to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic is Hollywood, but the producers behind Blue Bloods might have just found a solution. Producers on the Tom Selleck-starring police drama are reportedly looking into buying "germ-zapping robots" that are already used to keep hospitals clean around the world and could keep sets clean. All film and television production has been on hold since mid-March due to the pandemic, and Hollywood is still brainstorming ways to resume.
Blue Bloods producers have reportedly shown "serious interest" in using a Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot, developed by Xenex Disinfection Services in San Antonio, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Recent testing performed at Texas Biomedical Research Institute found the robot could deactivate 99.99% of the novel coronavirus in two minutes thanks to its LightStrike technology. Xenex co-founder Dr. Mark Stibich told THR they are offering the robot to the entertainment industry through the new Production Safe Zone venture, which he founded with filmmaker Justin Golding. The two have approached several major Hollywood studios and streamers, but Blue Bloods producers were the first to show serious interest.
"The way we like to think of it is that our pathogens, like coronavirus, have evolved — but our tools that clean the environment haven't," Stibtch told THR. "We're still basically using buckets and mops and wipes, and what we need is a new tool in order to reduce the risks that the environment may cause an infection." Stibtch and Golding would not comment on Blue Bloods' interest, and CBS would not comment. THR reported the producers have already put one robot on hold in case they are approved for use.
The Xenex robots are rented out to health care facilities for about $125,000 per month. The Mayo Clinic, USC and Stanford are among the facilities already using them. The devices can move on their own and they can disinfect several rooms in a day. They work by creating high-intensity UVC light. Humans should not be in the same room while the robots are working, since the light could damage eyes, Stibch explained.
Blue Bloods ended its 10th season on May 1 with the 19th episode of the season, three episodes shy of the usual 22. Production was shut down in mid-March as lockdown orders went into effect in New York, where the show is filmed. The series stars Selleck as New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, the patriarch of a family of police officers. During a virtual Reagan family dinner before the finale aired, showrunner Kevin Wade hinted the series ould tackle the coronavirus pandemic in future episodes.