HBO has canceled this week’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” after the host tested positive for COVID-19 as part of the show’s regular screening process.
“The Friday, May 14th taping of Real Time with Bill Maher has been cancelled,” HBO said in a statement. “Bill tested positive during weekly staff PCR testing for COVID. He is fully vaccinated and as a result is asymptomatic and feels fine.”
On the schedule for Friday’s show was an in-studio interview with “StarTalk” host Neil deGrasse Tyson and a panel discussion with “Hardcore History” host Dan Carlin and Max Brooks, a senior resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point.
“‘Real Time’ production has taken every precaution following COVID CDC guidelines,” the statement continued. “No other staff or crew members have tested positive at this time. The show will be rescheduled at a later date.”
Not long after the announcement, Maher tweeted about his recent diagnosis, saying, “Thanks to all wishing me get well – hard to do since I feel perfectly fine, but I appreciate it! Most upset about ending my streak going back to 1993 of never missing a Politically Incorrect or Real Time episode. Oh well, even Cal Ripken had to sit one out at some point.”
According to the CDC, post-vaccination infections, known as “virus breakthrough cases,” are rare but expected as the vaccine rollout continues across the country. As of late April, the CDC said fewer than 10,000 breakthrough cases had been reported among the more than 95 million people who had been fully vaccinated.
Maher recently addressed the COVID-19 pandemic on “Real Time,” going in on what he called the government and the media’s “scared straight” approach to pandemic messaging and the slow reopening of Democratic states.
“If the right-wing media bubble has to own things like climate change denial, shouldn’t liberal media have to answer for ‘How did your audience wind up believing such bunch of crap about COVID?’ … If you lie to people, even for a very good cause, you lose their trust,” he said back in April.