During the premiere episode of season 5 of The Real Housewives of Dallas, which aired New Year's Eve night, Stephanie Hollman greets Brandi Redmond at Redmond's house with a big hug.
"This is a corona-free zone," Hollman says during a confessional. "We're filming a TV show. We've been tested, like, a million times. I mean, honestly. Sometimes your masks are on, sometimes they're off, so keep your tweets to yourself. We are very safe. Nobody's getting the corona."
Well, almost nobody.
The mask-wearing throughout the first episode is inconsistent at best. One of the first scenes shows Kameron Westcott's dog's trainer entering the Westcotts' home unmasked. Later on in the episode, Westcott hosts a garage sale and, while everyone working around her is masked, Westcott is unmasked. When the other Housewives arrive at the garage sale, some are wearing masks, some not, and some are wearing face shields. Everyone hugs one another. People shopping the garage sale wait at a distance with masks on.
According to a RHOD fan Instagram account, the garage sale was June 26. On June 24, the Texas Department of State Health Services tweeted that Texas was seeing a "major increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations."
But the most shocking scene in terms of COVID-19 safety comes when new Housewife Tiffany Moon, associate professor of anesthesiology and pain management at UT Southwestern Medical Center, returns from work and greets fellow Housewife D'Andra Simmons and her mother, Dee Simmons, with kisses.
"I worked all day," Moon says to the Simmons. "I was in the OR and then I went home to take my decontamination shower because I just feel kind of gross." (Moon's job consists of three parts: "taking care of patients in the operating room, teaching and doing research," according to Voyage Dallas.)
“The Real Housewives of Dallas followed a comprehensive health and safety plan during production," a Bravo rep tells us via email. "The plan was developed in accordance with CDC guidance, all state and local orders, as well as NBCUniversal’s own safety guidelines.”
Even though the women were tested, the CDC states that it's possible to still have COVID-1 and a negative test result.
"You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness," the CDC website states. "You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others."
According to D'Andra Simmons' Instagram, that scene with her mother and Moon was filmed July 8 or sometime around it. On July 7, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 10,000 new cases and urged people to stay home.
"Sometimes your masks are on, sometimes they're off, so keep your tweets to yourself. We are very safe. Nobody's getting the corona." – Real Housewives cast member Stephanie Hollman
Unlike other reality shows that are filming and airing during the pandemic, The Real Housewives of Dallas isn't in a bubble. The Bachelorette isolated its cast and crew and didn't allow outsiders. The women of RHOD are coming into contact with outsiders regularly — the dog trainer, Moon's patients, the customers at the garage sale.
Later on in the episode, Hollman hosts a pool party at her house (which was filmed June 27, according to Instagram). None of the women are masked. The caterers and people setting up the party are masked. Housewife Kary Brittingham jokes that tequila will kill the coronavirus. During lunch at the pool party, the women begin to tell one another about their quarantine experiences. New castmember Jennifer Davis tells the women her sister has COVID-19. And then Moon tells the women how serious the virus is.
"There is some real devastation going on in a lot of people's lives," she says during lunch. "It's been tough."
During Moon's confessional, she tells the camera that COVID-19 isn't a hoax.
"If I encountered someone who said coronavirus isn't real, it's a hoax, it's a liberal agenda, it's a conspiracy, I would just say to them, 'Let's not be friends for now,'" she said. "I'm a doctor. I went to medical school. I'm a scientist. There is a novel coronavirus. It is infecting people and some of those people are very sick and dying. Like, those are facts. Like, the sky is blue. Right?"
In late December, D'Andra Simmons was hospitalized with COVID-19. Neither UT Southwestern nor Moon responded to a request for comment.
The Real Housewives of Dallas airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on Bravo.