Dancing With the Stars pro Daniella Karagach will miss Monday night's live episode after testing positive for COVID-19. She will be replaced by dance troupe member Alexis Warr, who will hit the ballroom floor with bodybuilder Joseph Baena. The news follows reports that there were multiple COVID cases reported after the Disney+ show's Sept. 19 premiere.
Karagach is "completely asymptomatic and is self-quarantining," a DWTS spokesperson told Deadline. "Everyone who has been in close contact with her has tested negative." However, those who were in close contact with her during the past week will wear facemasks during Monday's episode. Karagach's husband, Pasha Pashkov, is expected to be on the show. He is dancing with The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice.
At least four COVID cases were reported among the DWTS crew after the premiere last week. The four individuals work in "completely different departments that do not have in-person contact with each other, based on our pod system," a spokesperson told Deadline on Sept. 22. "Contact tracing was immediately conducted," the spokesperson added. "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." Over 300 people work on the DWTS production.
Baena, who is also the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Karagach earned a 23/40 from the judges for their Jive dance to Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It Up" last week. Pashkov and Giudice only scored a 20/40 for their Tango to Rihanna's "We Found Love" and they were in the bottom two. However, the judges chose to save Giudice and Pashkov, sending actor Jason Lewis and Peta Murgatroyd home.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the DWTS team to make several changes quickly over the past three seasons. During Season 29, there was no studio audience and judge Len Goodman was unable to travel to Los Angeles due to travel restrictions. In Season 30, Peleton instructor Cody Rigsby tested positive, forcing the judges to use his rehearsal footage with Cheryl Burke to give him a score. The next week, Ribsby and Burke virtually "danced" together in an awkward moment. Burke and Rigsby still made it to the season finale, but they lost to Iman Shumpert and Karagach.
Season 31 is the first DWTS season to stream live exclusively on Disney+ Mondays, starting at 8 p.m. ET. The show is streaming live in every time zone, allowing all viewers to vote. Selma Blair, Wayne Brady, Sam Champion, Charli D'Amelio, Heidi D'Amelio, Jessie James Decker, Trevor Donovan, Daniel Durant, Vinny Guadaginino, Cheryl Ladd, Sangela, Jordin Sparks, and Gabby Windey are also competing this season. Monday's episode features Elvis Presley's songs.