UPDATED: Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line revealed Monday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the second performer slated for Wednesday’s CMA Awards telecast to have to pull out on account of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
“Some of y’all guessed it,” Hubbard wrote on Instagram. “Got the Rona. Asymptomatic. Quarantining on bus. Miss my family. Writing songs. Thankful.”
Florida Georgia Line exiting the CMAs follows closely on the heels of another country star, Lee Brice, having to do the same over the weekend.
Sunday night, Hubbard had hinted at trouble, posting a photo of his tour bus parked at his home. “Any ideas why I would have my tour bus parked in the driveway?” he asked fans.
The Country Music Association released a statement Monday afternoon: “As you may have heard, unfortunately Lee Brice and Tyler Hubbard both tested positive for COVID-19 and are unable to join us for the CMA Awards on Wednesday night. Although this is incredibly disappointing, not only for the show but also for CMA personally as we care deeply for these artists and only want the best for them and their families, it does reassure us that our protocols are working. Our process enabled us to manage each situation immediately and before either artist ever entered our set. Most importantly, it prevented anyone else from being exposed.”
The org added, “We have been extremely diligent with our testing process in advance of anyone entering our footprint. Every single person has been tested, and many will be tested repeatedly throughout the week. This is in addition to wearing PPE and of course practicing social and physical distancing. We have an incredible show planned and look forward to bringing the Country Music community together. However, our number one priority has been and will continue to be the safety of our artists, our crew and our staff. That will never be compromised.”
Ironically, perhaps, the other half of the Florida Georgia Line duo, Brian Kelley, had taken to Instagram Sunday to downplay coronavirus concerns. Kelly posted photos of Biden celebration rallies outside the White House and wrote that if those throngs could gather with no social distancing, live concerts should be allowed to resume immediately. Those photos and messages, which were part of Kelley’s Instagram Story, are no longer visible.
“Time to go back to work AMERICA,” Kelley wrote on Instagram, presumably before learning of his partner’s diagnosis. “Booking shows ASAP.”
Although Hubbard did not say anything in his social media posts about the planned CMAs performance, Florida Georgia Line — which had been announced to do the hit “Long Live” — no longer appears on the site’s list of performers, as would be expected.
Variety has reached out to the Country Music Association and Florida Georgia Line’s reps for comment. Over the weekend, before the news about Hubbard’s diagnosis came out, the CMA had told the Tennessean that Brice had not been involved in any rehearsals before his positive test.
Another performer on the CMAs, Morgan Wallen, took to Instagram over the weekend, too, posting the same photo of pro-Biden crowds in D.C. that Kelley did, also calling for concerts to resume immediately. Wallen was recently forced to exit a prime “Saturday Night Live” slot after being photographed partying with and kissing fans in public shortly before his planned appearance.
Lee Brice is being replaced on the CMA Awards telecast by Lady A’s Charles Kelley, who will take Brice’s place in a duet with Carly Pearce of “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” There has been no word on whether a different artist will be booked for Florida Georgia Line’s slot.
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