Charley Pride's CMA Awards Appearance Before His Death Prompts Concerns About COVID Protocols

Following the news of country music star Charley Pride's death Saturday due to complications from COVID-19, some have raised concerns and speculated about the Country Music Association's (CMA) coronavirus protocols after the singer's recent appearance at its 2020 awards show.

The CMA Awards were hosted in front of a live, socially distanced audience at the Music City Center in Nashville on November 11, unlike other music awards shows that have chosen to forgo a live audience because of the pandemic.

Although the CMA required rapid testing for all those in attendance and tables were spaced to follow the city's coronavirus guidelines, mask wearing was reportedly not enforced for audience members.

On Saturday, the public relations firm 2911 Media, which represented Pride, confirmed the singer's death, which came a month after he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CMA. Pride, 86, was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Some artists were concerned about the event's coronavirus protocols following Pride's death.

2019 Winter TCA Tour - Day 4
Charley Pride speaks during the Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on February 1, 2019, in Pasadena, California. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/Getty

"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," Singer-songwriter Maren Morris wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "Rest in power, Charley."

Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile shared Morris's concerns.

"Honestly you're right to acknowledge what everyone is wondering and as usual YOU have a lot to lose for asking the question," Carlile tweeted on Saturday. "Thank you for being human. Whether that was the place he got it or not, they endangered him and it easily could have been.

"It's quietly bothered me for weeks," Carlile added.

Honestly you’re right to acknowledge what everyone is wondering & as usual YOU have a lot to lose for asking the question. Thank you for being human. Whether that was the place he got it or not- they endangered him & it easily could have been. It’s quietly bothered me for weeks

— Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) December 13, 2020

Country singer Mickey Guyton also commented on Twitter following Pride's death:

We need answers as to how Charley Pride got covid.

— Mickey Guyton (@MickeyGuyton) December 12, 2020

In response, the CMAs and Pride's representatives issued a statement on Saturday detailing the coronavirus protocols the association enacted for the awards show.

"Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions," the statement said.

"Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times," the statement continued. "All of us in the country music community are heartbroken by Charley's passing."

Dolly Parton was among the many celebrities and fans mourning the loss of Pride.

"I'm so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away," Parton tweeted Saturday. "It's even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you."

I’m so heartbroken that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Charley Pride, has passed away. It’s even worse to know that he passed away from COVID-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you. (1/2)

— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) December 12, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned on Monday that America's largest metropolis could be headed for a total lockdown in the coming weeks because of the spike in coronavirus infections and decreasing hospital capacity.

Last week, New York's leaders announced that the city would once again halt indoor dining on Monday—which was operating at 25 percent capacity—as the pandemic has once again surged locally. Speaking to CNN on Monday morning, De Blasio discussed that decision and said further restrictions will likely be implemented.

"You're talking about the potential, and again I'm quoting from Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and I think he's right, there's a potential of having to do a full pause—a full shutdown in the coming weeks, because we can't let this kind of momentum go," de Blasio said. The mayor pointed out that New York City was initially the "epicenter" of the outbreak in the U.S.

After halting indoor dining due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, Mayor @BilldeBlasio said New York City could see a “full shutdown in the coming weeks.”

“This kind of momentum that the disease has right now, we’ve got to stop it before it causes too much damage, too much pain.” pic.twitter.com/n6osyqZ97M

— New Day (@NewDay) December 14, 2020

"We fought back. We became one of the safest places in the country. We opened our schools when most intercities didn't. We've kept our schools safe. But now we're seeing the kind of level of infection that we haven't seen since May, and we have got to stop that momentum or else our hospital system will be threatened," the mayor explained.

Newsweek reached out to Cuomo's and de Blasio's press offices for further comment, but they did not respond in time for publication. Last Monday, Cuomo issued a similar warning, as de Blasio pointed out to CNN.

"If our hospital capacity becomes critical, we're going to close down that region, period," Cuomo said, outlining "New York Pause" metrics. These "pause" restrictions would require all nonessential business to shutter and all nonessential gatherings to be canceled.

"It's a little complicated, but if your seven-day average says that, if it were to continue for three weeks, you're going to hit 90 percent of your hospital capacity, close down," the New York governor explained.

"If you are at a rate that is going to overwhelm your hospitals, you must shut down. Not just indoor dining. Shut down. Only essential businesses," Cuomo said.

New York state, and in particular New York City, were initially the hardest hit part of the country in the spring. The state continues to have the highest number of deaths—nearly 35,200 as of Monday morning—of any state, although daily infections and deaths dropped to some of the lowest levels in the nation during the summer and early fall.

Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the opening of the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park on November 5 in New York City. On Monday, de Blasio warned of the possibility of another "full shutdown" of the city as coronavirus infections surge. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty

But the virus has surged in New York City over the past several weeks. During the past seven days, the city saw an average of more than 3,500 new infections per day. New daily deaths have ticked upward, although they remain relatively low compared with other states. The seven-day average of deaths in the city stands at 24 per day.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning New York City began vaccinating health care workers with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend. Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, became the first person in the city to be vaccinated, at around 9:20 a.m.