Yesterday, country music icon Charley Pride died of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 86, just a few weeks after his now-final performance onstage at the Country Music Awards in November. Before the event, the CMAs were criticized for holding an indoor ceremony with a number of people physically in attendance—a difference from how most recent award shows have done it, with a live host and the majority of other people appearing remotely. The attendees worse masks and were reportedly tested for COVID, but given Pride’s death, some members of the country music community are now wondering if the CMAs had done enough.
As reported by Deadline, singer Maren Morris suggested in a now-deleted tweet that the CMA awards’ decision to hold an indoor event could be the reason Pride caught the coronavirus, with Mickey Guyton responding to her post by saying that she “thought the same damn thing,” adding, “we need answers as to how Charley Pride got COVID.” (She has since walked that back a bit.)
The Country Music Awards have now responded to the questions about the event’s safety protocols, releasing a statement that says Pride “tested negative multiple times” after attending the awards and that the organization “will not be commenting on this further” out of respect to Pride and his family. That’s certainly fair, but the reality is that it’s probably impossible to know when or where or how Pride got COVID at this point. What we do know is that he’s yet another person whose death is now permanently tied to this ongoing tragedy.