The country singer joked he was experiencing coronavirus symptoms, then said: "On a real note. Don't have COVID. But I'm dropping a single tonight"

By Benjamin VanHoose
December 01, 2020 12:45 PM
Advertisement

Chase Rice is facing backlash for joking that he had COVID-19 as a way to tease new music, five months after performing a crowded concert amid the pandemic.

On Sunday night, the 35-year-old country star tweeted, "Just lost my taste and smell. Weird. Also, dropping a single at midnight," implying that he contracted the novel coronavirus, which has common symptoms that affect senses like taste and smell.

The social media post was designed to promote his new song titled "Drinkin' Beer. Talkin' God. Amen" with Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, who recently recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

"On a real note. Don't have covid," Rice tweeted minutes after the previous post. "But I'm dropping a single tonight. With 2 guys that I learned a lot from. Respect the hell out of @FLAGALine. And 10 years after we started doing music together and lived together, we're at it again."

Some Twitter users spoke out about Rice's choice to imply a COVID-19 diagnosis to tout a new song release, with one replying to his tweet: "Really in bad taste to joke about Covid. Thought you had learned something since the concert incident this year..."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"I'm legitimately glad you're ok," wrote another fan, "but it's NOT funny joking about having Covid. Especially to promote music. People are literally dying from it." Others said the joke was "in poor taste" and "awful."

A rep for Rice had no comment.

Back in June, Rice was criticized for performing in front of a live audience in the middle of the pandemic in Petros, Tennessee. "We back 😎," Rice wrote with the video on his Instagram Story at the time, showing a cheering audience in close proximity to each other without masks.

The concert quickly became controversial on social media as other country artists criticized Rice for holding the performance, including Kelsea Ballerini, who called him "selfish."

RELATED VIDEO: Kelsea Ballerini Calls Chase Rice 'Selfish' for Performing Tennessee Concert During Pandemic

Days later, Rice addressed the controversy, acknowledging that some people "had a big problem with how the show looked" and "I understand that there are a lot of varying opinions, a lot of opinions on COVID-19, how it works with live music crowds and what all that looks like."

The country star went on in the Instagram video to emphasize that his "biggest" concern is for his fans and their wellbeing. "My biggest thing is y'all. Y'all are why I get to write songs. Y'all are why I get to tour the country, why I get to do live shows and sing these songs to you guys and you guys sing them back," he said. "You guys are everything to me, so your safety is a huge, huge priority."

Due to the airborne transmission of COVID-19 and case spikes across the country, the CDC advises against indoor gatherings of large groups, and recommends six feet of distance and face coverings at all times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.