By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Several conservatives have died of complications of COVID as the Delta variant rages through the southern part of the U.S. Many of them have publicly downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and have opposed mask mandate laws in the U.S. On August 28, Texas anti-mask organizer Caleb Wallace died after being infected with the COVID virus and remaining in the hospital since July 30. Wallace, 30, organized a “Freedom Rally” in early July for those “sick of the government being in control of our lives.” Wallace was a founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders. On August 14, longtime conservative radio host Dick Farrel, 65, who was based in Palm Beach and a skeptic of the seriousness of the coronavirus, died. Farrel refused to get the COVID vaccine. During his show on July 2, Farrel described the Delta variant as “another avalanche of Footchi bull shif.” Farrel was referring to medical guidance by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden. On August 21, another conservative COVID skeptic, radio host Phil Valentine, died. In late July Valentine’s radio station, 99.7 WTN in Nashville, announced that Valentine was hospitalized and “in very serious condition, suffering from Covid pneumonia.” On August 5, another Texas anti-mask/anti-vaccine activist, Scott Apley, 45, died of COVID complications. Apley was a leader in the Texas Republican Party and a member of the Dickinson City Council. Apley wrote, “You are an absolute enemy of a free people,” as he replied on a twitter to news that clinical trials showed that the Pfizer vaccine was effective at fighting COVID. On August 20, South Carolina tea party Republican leader Pressley Stutts died from complications of COVID. He was 64. Stutts opposed mask mandates but stated on social media that Covid-19 was a serious and deadly disease. Days before his death Stutts wrote on social media that he was choosing to go on a ventilator to take “a short rest.” COVID has killed over 600,000 people in the U.S. before the pandemic struck in March of 2020. President Donald Trump attempted to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic. President Biden has had a different approach. Plans for a booster shot of the vaccine are expected to get underway in September.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke