Buzzfeed’s holiday party appears to have become a super-spreader event, despite a company-wide vaccine mandate that required partygoers to present their vaccination cards in order to get into the event.
Three BuzzFeed staffers were reportedly infected with COVID-19 following the company’s Christmas party in Manhattan last week, and about six others are awaiting test results after becoming ill.
According to Business Insider, the three BuzzFeed employees who tested positive said that they were fully vaccinated and received their booster shots prior to attending the event. All three are reportedly experiencing mild symptoms. The media company is conducting contact tracing to identify other cases, and is offering free testing, the Insider reported.
The Dec. 10 party was held at the Starrett-Lehigh building in Manhattan, with employees from the company’s New York and Washington offices in attendance, as well as staffers from HuffPost, which BuzzFeed acquired earlier this year.
One of the positive BuzzFeed staffers said they were notified via BuzzFeed’s in-house contact tracing team that they had close contact with a positive case. The communication referenced that the contact might have been at BuzzFeed’s New York office, the holiday party, or at a group gathering in Los Angeles the prior weekend.
Another of the COVID-positive employees estimated that there were about 10 cases they knew of. This staffer said they were aware of five or six other staffers who currently feel sick and are awaiting test results.
The United States is reportedly seeing a 40 percent increase in COVID-19 cases over a month ago, averaging 118,717 new COVID-19 cases each day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Delta remains the dominate strain, but cases of the milder, but more infectious Omicron variant are quickly rising.
“With COVID positive cases rising across the US, we now have a number of known full-time and freelance employees who have tested positive in recent days,” a BuzzFeed official wrote to employees on Thursday, according to Insider.
The email went on to say that the company’s “staff Epidemiologist” was following up with employees and freelancers who reported that they tested positive and notifying staffers who were in close contact with them. Staffers who had close contact with a positive case are eligible for same-day PCR testing at BuzzFeed’s offices in New York or Los Angeles, while those not located near to offices could get the cost of their tests reimbursed, the email said.
Buzzfeed and Huffpo CEO Jonah Peretti was at the party wearing a hoodie, according to sources.