Dancing With the Stars Season 31 has already been hit by COVID. At least four cases of COVID were reported after the dance competition show's Sept. 19 premiere on Disney+, Deadline reports, as the show quickly took steps to stem the transmission of the virus. Dancing With the Stars employs more than 300 production employees behind the scenes, which is where the outbreak hit.
All four individuals who tested positive are crew members who work separately in "completely different departments that do not have in-person contact with each other, based on our pod system," a DWTS spokesperson assured the outlet. "Contact tracing was immediately conducted. All close contacts were notified and put on an increased testing cadence. No close contact of the four positive production employees has since tested positive."
The spokesperson went on to explain that the entire set has been disinfected and as an extra precaution, we asked the majority of employees to work from home." The show has since been cleared by the Department of Public Health to continue production, "based on our strict safety protocols," the spokesperson added.
Dancing With the Stars has been fighting to keep COVID at bay since it returned for Season 30 last year. During that season, celebrity Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby and his pro partner Cheryl Burke both tested positive for COVID, despite all the safety procedures being followed by cast and crew. The team was forced to stay out of the ballroom for two weeks of live shows as producers found creative ways to keep them in the competition.
In the first week of their absence, judges weighed in on a rehearsal video that the two filmed before testing positive in lieu of a live performance. The week after became a Dancing With the Stars first as Rigsby and Burke put on a remote performance separately from their respective living rooms as they paid tribute to Britney Spears' music. While the dance was innovative, it earned the pair the lowest score of the night, but they were spared elimination. The following week, the two returned to the ballroom to compete in person again.
Monday, Dancing With the Stars Season 31 kicked off for the first time on Disney+ as 16 couples performed in front of the judges and a live studio audience for the first time. At the end of the night, Sex and the City star Jason Lewis and his partner Peta Murgatroyd were sent packing after earning one of the lowest scores of the night -18 out of 40. Dancing With the Stars returns to Disney+ with a new episode Monday as the couples take on the music of Elvis Presley.