Phil Valentine, Conservative Radio Host Who Mocked Vaccines, Dies Of COVID-19

Doctors work in a COVID-19 ward.
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Phil Valentine, a conservative radio host who had downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and mocked vaccines, has died after contracting the virus.

The Tennessee radio personality had been battling an infection that forced him off the air in July, WTVF reported. His death has now drawn national attention amid a wider debate about stagnating vaccination numbers and hesitancy among many groups to get vaccinated. It also comes amid a surge in cases connected to the Delta variant of COVID-19, which has many public health experts worried.

Radio Station Announces Host's Death

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Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon

Valentine's death was announced on Saturday by SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, which posted a brief memorial on Twitter. As WTVF noted, he gained attention as a conservative activist, often taking aim at taxes.

"Valentine moved to talk radio full time in 1995, but in 2000, he received national attention by helping to organize horn honking protests against a proposed state income tax in Tennessee," the report noted, adding that many credit the protests he sparked with helping defeat a state income tax proposal.

Valentine Stoked Controversy

A COVID-19 vaccine.
Gettyimages | Michael Ciaglo

As the report noted, Valentine often expressed doubts about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for vaccines. In December, he tweeted "I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?"

Valentine also recorded a parody song to mock the vaccine. His voice joined a number of other conservatives who have expressed doubts about the effectiveness and necessity of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Other Vaccine Critics Have Suffered Same Fate

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Gettyimages | Mario Tama

Valentine is not the first prominent conservative to die of COVID-19 after taking aim at vaccines. Earlier in August, Texas Republican official H. Scott Apley died after a battle with the virus. As The Inquisitr previously noted, Apley had taken to Facebook to mock the vaccine prior to his own infection.

“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,” his post read.

Vaccine Hesitancy Persists

A man is vaccinated.
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Valentine's death comes as many state, local, and federal officials have ramped up efforts to get Americans vaccinated, especially amid the surge in cases with the new Delta variant. Infection and hospitalization rates have been highest in areas of the United States with the lowest vaccination rates, and public health experts have warned that the new variant can still be dangerous even for people who have been fully vaccinated. There is still pushback from some Republican officials, including in Florida and Texas where GOP governors have pushed back against mask mandates in schools.