A conservative radio host who downplayed COVID-19 and refused to get vaccinated has now contracted the virus and is in critical condition. Phil Valentine announced his diagnosis July 11, and initially said he'd be back to work in days (and he apparently was, for at least one day). "Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it," he said. But within less than two weeks, he was hospitalized; he's on a ventilator at night and using an oxygen mask during the day. On Sunday, his radio station posted an update regarding Valentine's vaccine status—notable because, as Valentine's brother, Mark, tells New York Times, "A lot of people didn’t get the vaccine because he didn’t." And now 99.7 WTN is saying this: "Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine’, and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position."
The response has been mixed, with some saying Valentine (who, last month, sang a song he called "Vaxman" that appeared to mock vaccines and, even after his diagnosis, appeared to question vaccine safety) had already inspired them to get vaccinated after he himself got sick, while others say they still have no plans to get the shot. The news comes as others' similar COVID diagnoses are also making headlines: In Maine, a Republican lawmaker who broke the state legislature's mask rules, mocked the vaccine, and downplayed the virus now has it, the Press-Herald reports; he and his wife are reportedly having significant symptoms. In Louisiana, a man hospitalized with COVID tells CBS News he'd rather go through that than get vaccinated. And in Southern California, a 34-year-old man active with Hillsong church, who had mocked vaccines on social media and continued posting about being opposed to them after being hospitalized, died of COVID, ABC 7 reports. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)