Maren Morris, a triple winner at the awards, was one of the first to question how Pride had been infected. She tweeted, “I don’t want to jump to conclusions because no family statement has been made, but if this was a result of the CMAs being indoors, we should all be outraged. Rest in power, Charley … F— this f—ing year.”
“We need answers as to how Charley Pride got covid,” Mickey Guyton wrote, bringing the discussion to her Twitter page.
The CMA Awards were held at Music City Center in Nashville, attended only by performers, nominees and selected guests sitting at socially distanced tables.
In an interview with Billboard after this year’s CMA Awards — an event that had a number of artists, including Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Rascal Flatts and Lady A, not attending because they or a member of their family tested positive for COVID-19 — CMA CEO Sarah Trahern addressed the rigorous testing protocols their team had in place.
“We began testing weeks before the show, in October. It’s not just the artists and their guests we tested — we tested literally everyone: stagehands, production crew, our staff, in addition to talent. We have our final load out happening now at Music City Center, so testing doesn’t just stop because talent is no longer on site. We also consulted with an epidemiologist throughout the process,” Trahern said of preparing for the first awards show during the pandemic to include a live, if socially distanced and limited, audience.
“None of the artists who tested positive had ever entered the venue,” added Trahern. “The protocols we followed were required not only by the CDC but the local health department, as well as the unions and guilds.”