Candace Owens‘ reported absence at an event in Texas because of a “sudden illness” has sparked rumors that the conservative anti-vaccine champion may have come down with COVID-19 after spending more than a year dismissing it as nothing more than a hoax designed to infringe on freedoms enjoyed by Americans.
The unconfirmed reports about Owens come as a number of other conservative anti-vaxxers have not only tested positive for COVID-19 but were also being hospitalized with serious symptoms before dying.
Owens, who has bragged about traveling internationally for months and sleeping next to her husband after he tested positive for COVID-19 without contracting the coronavirus, has called herself a “scientific miracle” who is “proud” to go unvaccinated and repeatedly questioned the COVID-19 vaccine‘s effectiveness and worth.
Which is why it may have come as a surprise that she was forced to skip speaking at the Texas Youth Summit, an event organized by a Christian conservative group and held this past Friday. Salon staff writer Zachary Petrizzo tweeted early Saturday morning that Owens “could not make her speaking slot” because of a “sudden illness” that was not specified.
Petrizzo’s tweet quickly went viral with replies to his tweet addressing everything from Owens’ vaccination status — many believe she is vaccinated after all — to her possible demise from an illness she has downplayed.
On Sunday, the Meidas Touch pro-Democratic political action committee followed up on Petrizzo’s tweet by asking: “Is she Covid positive?”
That tweet also went viral as Twitter users speculated about Owens’ health.
As a result, “Candace Owens sick” and “Candace Owens illness” became top trending topics on Twitter.
Considering how the delta variant’s surge has coincided with a growing number of conservative anti-vaxxers not only being sickened but also dying from COVID-19, the speculation may not be too far-fetched.
Most recently, Marc Bernier, a conservative, right-wing radio host in Florida who dubbed himself “Mr. Anti-Vax,” died Saturday — nearly one month after his final tweet compared the U.S. government’s vaccination efforts to “Nazi’s” [sic]. Bernier had been battling COVID-19 for three weeks before he died.
Caleb Wallace, a Texas man who organized an anti-mask rally earlier this summer, also died Saturday following a brief battle against COVID-19. Wallace, a reported founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders anti-mask group, spent weeks on a ventilator in a hospital after devoting his pandemic existence to exposing “COVID-19 tyranny,” as he called it.
“They believed the coronavirus was a hoax and they felt that the government was being too heavy-handed when it came to masks,” San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter said of Wallace and his followers.
Phil Valentine, another conservative talk show host, also died this month from COVID-19 after expressing skepticism about the vaccine.
While his family made sure to say that Valentine was not an anti-vaxxer, they also said he ultimately regretted “not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine,'” the New York Times reported. On his deathbed, Valentine reportedly encouraged all his listeners to get vaccinated, a decided departure from his prior rhetoric.
Dick Farrel, yet another conservative talk show host, also died earlier this month of COVID-19 after trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci — the nation’s foremost infectious diseases expert — as a “power tripping lying freak” in regard to the vaccine. Farrel’s friends said he changed his stance and told them to get vaccinated while he was hospitalized. He reportedly also lamented before he died, “I wish I had gotten it!”
And then there is H. Scott Apley, a Texas GOP official who was both anti-mask and anti-vaccine and died earlier this month from COVID-19.
His final Facebook post from late July made light of the pandemic and downplayed any real health concerns.
“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,” he wrote on his Facebook page that has since been deactivated.
The list of people who have suffered health consequences following mocking or downplaying the pandemic and associated public health guidelines literally goes on and on. But this one would be incomplete without at least mentioning John Pierce, a staunch conservative lawyer who once represented Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and is now representing 17 members of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Pierce, for months, had been using his Twitter account as a hub for anti-vaccine propaganda.
Last week, it was reported that Pierce was in critical condition in a hospital with COVID-19 and breathing through a ventilator.
That happened just about a week after Pierce tweeted, “All I know is the entire 82nd Airborne couldn’t make me get an experimental government vaccine stuck in my arm.”
The delta variant has also resulted in “breakthrough” cases that infect people who are fully vaccinated, underscoring the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine is not foolproof. However, those breakthrough deaths — like that of Lee Vance, a fully vaccinated sheriff in Mississippi who died of COVID-19 earlier this month — are seemingly fewer and farther in between the deaths of those who are unvaccinated and refuse to wear masks.
Public health officials continue to remind people that vaccinating against COVID-19 gives them the best chance to ward off infections or, at least, reduce the kind of symptoms that have been killing others.
As NewsOne’s Zack Linly astutely wrote about Pierce, “we really shouldn’t be making fun of or shouting ‘I told you so’ at anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 deniers who end up hospitalized after contracting the virus, but there are certain people who make it hard to be compassionate.”