Did the indoor superspreader CMAs expose the late Charley Pride to coronavirus?

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This year’s CMAs were held on November 11th. I covered it at the time, writing this headline: “The CMAs were a maskless, indoor superspreader event without social distancing.” It was all true. The event organizers in Nashville did space out the tables and seating arrangements slightly, but everybody milled about inside the event, maskless and breathing on each other. Charley Pride, 86, attended the CMAs to accept his Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Pride is well-known to country fans as (arguably) the first Black country music star, and of course he got a welcome, maskless reception at the CMAs. Just weeks later, Pride was admitted to the hospital with a severe case of the coronavirus, and he passed away on Saturday, December 12th. So… did he get the virus at the CMAs? The CMA organizers want us to know that he absolutely did NOT.

Charley Pride was “unable to overcome” the coronavirus, according to a new statement shared on his official Facebook page. The singer died on Saturday in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 86.

Hours after news of his death was announced, a statement on Pride’s Facebook page detailed his coronavirus diagnosis. “It is with great sadness that we confirm that Charley Pride passed away this morning, Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Dallas, Texas of complications from Covid-19 at age 86,” the statement read.

“He was admitted to the hospital in late November with Covid-19 type symptoms and despite the incredible efforts, skill and care of his medical team over the past several weeks, he was unable to overcome the virus,” the statement continued. “Charley felt blessed to have such wonderful fans all over the world. And he would want his fans to take this virus very seriously.”

On Nov. 11, Pride made his final performance and received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the Country Music Association Awards, which drew controversy for being held indoors despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Many, including country stars Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton and Brandi Carlile, expressed concern about Pride possibly contracting the coronavirus at the CMAs.

However, the awards show issued a statement on Saturday.

“Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions. 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 read. “All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.”

Pride, who was the first Black artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and only the second Black artist to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, was best known for his songs “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone.”

[From People]

Again, the incubation period for the virus is generally believed to be between, like, four to nine days. Meaning, he could have been exposed to the virus at the CMAs, tested negative before and immediately after the awards show, and then tested positive for the virus a week later. Which is what it sounds like – the CMAs weren’t still in charge of testing Mr. Pride a week later, and so their statement about Pride tested negative “multiple times” following the CMAs seems both weak and untrue. He tested negative… until he didn’t. Until his body was riddled with coronavirus and he was hospitalized. Now, is it for sure that Mr. Pride was exposed to the virus ONLY at the CMAs? That’s why there’s contact tracing. He flew to Nashville and back, who knows who he was in contact with after the CMAs, etc. But the point of all of this is that the CMAs should NOT have been done that way – indoors, maskless, in person, with no social distancing.

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