Luke Bryan will not be present during American Idol's first live show on Monday, April 12, as the country star has tested positive for COVID-19. Bryan shared the news with fans on Monday morning, issuing a statement via his Instagram Story and Twitter. "I'm sad to say I won't be a part of tonight's first live American Idol show," he wrote. "I tested positive for COVID but I'm doing well and look forward to being back at it soon."
Sunday's episode of Idol was pre-taped and featured Bryan with fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. After Bryan revealed his diagnosis, American Idol announced on social media that the show is bringing original judge Paula Abdul in to fill the "One Margarita" singer's spot. "Luke will be missed at our first #AmericanIdol LIVE show tonight, but he is resting now in quarantine at home and we're wishing him a speedy recovery," a statement on the show's Instagram read. "We're so excited to announce @paulaabdul will be stepping in as a guest judge to join Lionel Richie and Katy Perry as we get closer to crowning a new winner!"
I’m sad to say I won’t be a part of tonight’s first live @AmericanIdol show. I tested positive for COVID but I’m doing well and look forward to being back at it soon.— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) April 12, 2021
Abdul originally judged Idol alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson from 2002-2009, leaving the show before Season 9. Bryan is currently scheduled to perform during the ACM Awards on Sunday in Nashville, though it is now unclear whether he will be able to take part in the annual event due to his diagnosis as he did not reveal when he had tested positive. This season of Idol is the second that has been filmed amid the pandemic, the first of which was completed remotely.
This season, the contestants and judges are back in person, though there were a few safety-related changes made. "The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19," Bryan previously told PEOPLE. "One tricky thing is a lot of times during the audition process, contestants will get very, very emotional and it will be an emotional situation for them. The fact that me and Lionel and Katy can't walk out there and do the human element — hug and show support and love, is very, very tough."
"I think that's one thing you'll see as a viewer of me and Lionel and Katy," he continued. "When someone is hurting and they're emotional, you want to console them and hug them and love on them to help them through. The fact that sometimes we can't go put our arms around them is pretty heartbreaking."