Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! will reportedly be filmed without live studio audiences due to coronavirus fears. The decision was made out of concern for the audience's health, as well as for Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The average audience age for the shows is over 60, a group that is at a higher risk of contracting the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trebek and Wheel of Fortune hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are all over 60 as well.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter Monday that both shows will go without an audience "for the time being" while the studio keeps an eye on the situation. The sources said filming is scheduled to resume in mid-April. Sony has not commented on the situation.
The decision comes a week after Trebek, 79, marked a year since coming forward publicly with his cancer diagnosis.
"The one-year survival rate for stage four pancreatic cancer patients is 18 percent. I'm very happy to report I have just reached that marker," Trebek said in a video released on Wednesday. "Now, I'd be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days but a lot of not-so-good days. I joked with friends that the cancer won't kill me, the chemo treatments will."
Trebek is still undergoing treatment and said he was not looking for sympathy. Instead, he hoped to raise awareness of the challenges cancer patients face every day by being honest with his own battle.
"There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on," the beloved host explained. "But I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal. A betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive. It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration and a cheerleader of sorts, of the value of living and hope."
In the end, Trebek left his fans with a reminder to stay positive.
"If we take it just one day at a time with a positive attitude, anything is possible," he said.
Late Monday, California officials confirmed a second death in the state from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), reports KTLA. A woman in her 60s with no known history of traveling outside the contry came into contact with someone infected, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. She was hospitalized for a few weeks before her death Monday.
Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after the state's first confirmed death, reports Fox News.0comments
There are more than 113,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, and just over 600 in the U.S. So far, 22 deaths have been confirmed in the U.S.
Photo credit: Getty Images