The Country Music Association has released a statement highlighting its COVID-19 testing protocols before the 2020 CMA Awards. CMA honoree and performer Charley Pride died from COVID complications on Saturday (Dec. 12).

While it's not clear how or where the Country Music Hall of Fame artist contracted the virus, many on social media immediately began questioning if it could have been at the 2020 CMA Awards — a show that allowed artists to gather in the same room, without masks, for several hours.

Everyone involved in the event was tested several times prior to the show, the Country Music Association states. Five artists came up positive in the days leading up to the Nov. 11 telecast, but all were said to have been isolated from other performers and crew before they presented a health risk. Three of those artists were revealed after the show started to air, while Lee Brice and Tyler Hubbard were announced as COVID-19 positive in the days leading up to the event.

Maren Morris quickly connected Pride's diagnosis to the CMA Awards via Twitter, stating: "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" (per Entertainment Weekly).

Her tweet has since been deleted, and other artists who made similar remarks have since walked them back. Rhiannon Giddens asked, "Did the #CMAAwards kill Charley Pride?" but six hours later said:

The full CMA statement (below) states that Pride tested negative multiple times after returning to Texas, where he lived. No further information about the type of test he took or the timeline has been made available, although on Facebook, a member of Pride's team says that he was hospitalized in late November.

The following statement was made on behalf of CMA and representatives of Charley Pride and tweeted from the official CMA Twitter account. Pride's team has not amplified the message:

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. 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.

The 2020 CMA Awards were the first awards show to invite performers and other necessary persons to attend in person, a decision that drew some scrutiny as COVID-19 cases started to spike across the country and in Nashville. Pride was there to receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and to perform "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with Jimmie Allen.

The 86-year-old former CMA Entertainer of the Year winner was a frequent performer at past CMA Awards and also hosted with Glen Campbell in 1975.

See more reactions to Pride's death below:

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