A GOP official from Texas who regularly espoused anti-vaccine and anti-mask views online has died from COVID-19, five days after posting a meme on Facebook questioning the wisdom of getting inoculated against COVID.

Dickinson City Council member and Galveston County Republican Party chair H. Scott Apley, 45, died in a local hospital around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help Apley’s family with expenses. He was admitted to the facility in Galveston on Sunday with “pneumonia-like symptoms,” and was hooked up to a ventilator as his condition worsened. His wife was also infected, the family said.

“He leaves behind his wife, Melissa, who is COVID positive, as well as their infant son Reid,” according to the fundraiser, which has so far raised almost $15,000 of its $30,000 goal. “Your donations are greatly appreciated and will help the family as they get through this difficult period.”

“My heart is beyond broken for his family,” Dickinson Mayor Sean Skipworth wrote in a Facebook post. “Scott was a new father and that makes this loss especially tragic.”

Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi said in a statement, “Please join me in lifting the Apley family up in prayer. We will miss Scott deeply but find comfort knowing he is at peace in the arms of our Savior.” The announcement did not mention the fact that Apley’s death was COVID-related.

Apley is a staunch conservative and devout Christian. But based on his social media activity, Apley didn’t believe COVID was going to affect him or his family.

In May, Apley posted an invitation for a “mask burning” being held at a bar in Cincinnati, commenting, “I wish I lived in the area!” A couple of weeks earlier, he posted a news article about giveaways and incentives meant to encourage people to get vaccinated, writing, “Disgusting.” Apley also railed against so-called vaccine passports, which restrict high-risk activities, such as indoor dining, to the fully vaccinated. Recently, he suggested that mask mandates in Germany were akin to Nazism.

In one of numerous Facebook posts on the subject, Apley wrote, “Question: If businesses start allowing customers and employees go mask free only with VOLUNTARILY providing their vaccination record (presumably not a HIPPA [sic] violation), wouldn’t that basically INVOLUNTARILY identify people who have chosen not to get vaccinated (Which might be indirectly creating a HIPPA [sic] violation)?”

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and prohibits healthcare providers from improperly divulging a person’s private medical information without their consent. It does not apply to private businesses—a bartender asking if a customer is vaccinated, for example, does not constitute a HIPAA violation.

On July 30, less than a week before his death, Apley reposted a meme on his Facebook page that said: “In 6 months, we’ve gone from the vax ending the pandemic—to you can still get covid even if vaxxed—to you can pass covid onto others even if vaxxed—to you can still die of covid even if vaxxed—to the unvaxxed are killing the vaxxed.”In an interview Wednesday with the Galveston County Daily News, Mayor Sean Skipworth said he didn’t know if Apley had been vaccinated against COVID.

Apley’s untimely passing comes as COVID skeptics across the country have died or become extraordinarily sick after rejecting the constant calls by public health officials to get vaccinated and mask up. In Nashville, a right-wing radio host who repeatedly spread misinformation about the virus and mocked the vaccine, is now hospitalized as he fights for his life. A Brooklyn woman who called COVID a “fraud” died after rejecting the vaccine in favor of natural supplements like zinc and Vitamin D.

The family of a Florida woman who refused the COVID vaccine and died in June still refuses to get the jab. A Florida track coach who had resisted calls by friends and colleagues to get vaccinated finally agreed to make an appointment for his shots. However, he contracted COVID a day or two before getting his first dose and died in the hospital after slipping into a coma, leaving behind a wife and four children.

This content was originally published here.

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