Texas GOP Official Dies From COVID, Less Than a Week After Publishing Anti-Vaxx Sentiments
Dickinson City councilmember H. Scott Apley, an elected member of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee, was hospitalized on Sunday and subsequently placed on a ventilator after first testing positive for COVID-19.
Apley, 45, died from COVID-19-related complications early Wednesday morning, prompting the late politician's GOP colleagues to issue a number of remembrances in his honor.
"Please join me in lifting the Apley family up in prayer," said Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi in a same-day statement. "We will miss Scott deeply but find comfort knowing he is at peace in the arms of our Savior."
Dickinson Mayor Sean Skipworth described Apley to The Daily News as "somebody who cared a lot," noting that he called and wrote to a local fireman who was injured amid the Texas power crisis earlier this year.
The 45-year-old is survived by his wife and five-month-old child - both of whom have also tested positive for COVID-19.
Although the State Republican Executive Committee remembers Apley as someone "who had a long history of conservative political activism," it appears users on Facebook will remember him as an anti-masking source of misinformation and memes.
Five days before his death, the 45-year-old reposted a screenshot of a tweet that grossly mischaracterized the progression of knowledge regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
"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," the screenshot read.
"Science is real. It’s selfish for people to strain our hospitals and others have to suffer bc people don’t want to take the necessary precautions," commented Facebook user Christopher Fasola, while Robert Schumacher declared the situation "another preventable death due to denial and political stupidity."
It is unclear whether Apley and his family were vaccinated against COVID-19, but the 45-year-old did make it clear on social media that he was not a fan of wearing masks.
"I wish I lived in the area!" Apley said in a May post, referencing an invitiation to a "mask burning" event at a pub.
Though the comment section was somewhat divided, a majority of the netizens posting on the late politician's personal page were dismissive and even made light of his death, citing retaliation for Apley's spreading of misinformation.
"The problem is not that he harmed himself by spreading anti-mask and anti vaccine disinformation, but that people like him are directly responsible for the sickness and death of countless others," commented a Facebook user who goes by Cherry Garcia. "Sad that he had to die and people still refuse to learn this lesson, and so a pandemic which could have been under control much sooner if more people wore masks and got vaccinated continues on."
As folks like Gail Dammuller continue to blast the late politician for his "ignorance," more than 400 individuals have contributed to a GoFundMe started by a John Barton to cover medical and funeral expenses.
As of this article's publication, the fundraising campaign has surpassed its initial $30,000 limit. Donors have now raised more than $34,200 out of a new $50,000 goal.