The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Texas GOP leader railed against vaccines and masks. Then he died of covid.

H Scott Apley, a City Council member in Dickinson, Tex., has died of covid-19. (City of Dickinson, Tex.)

A leader of the Texas Republican Party hopped on Facebook in May to post about a “mask burning” party 900 miles away in Cincinnati.

“I wished I lived in the area!” wrote H Scott Apley.

The month before, Apley had responded to what Baltimore’s former health commissioner was heralding as “great news” — clinical trials showed that the Pfizer vaccine was effective at fighting the coronavirus, including one of the recent variants, for at least six months.

“You are an absolute enemy of a free people,” Apley wrote in a Twitter reply.

And on Friday, the 45-year-old Dickinson City Council member republished a Facebook post implying that vaccines don’t work.

Two days later, Apley was admitted to a Galveston hospital with “pneumonia-like symptoms” and tested positive for coronavirus, according to an online fundraising campaign. He was sedated and put on a ventilator.

On Wednesday, he died, members of his county’s party announced on social media.

Patrick McGinnis, chairman of the Galveston County Republican Party, said in a statement that Apley’s death was a “tragedy … magnified by his youth, his young family especially his very young son.”

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Apley’s wife and their son also tested positive for the virus. Neither had been hospitalized when Apley first went into the emergency room, according to the GoFundMe page.

In a little more than a day, the fundraising effort — which has since been updated to cover Apley’s funeral costs — raised more than $28,000 from over 300 donors. The man running the Apleys’ GoFundMe page and the Galveston County Republican Party didn’t respond to emails from The Washington Post late Wednesday.

Apley was elected to the Dickinson City Council in November after a failed campaign in 2019. He was also serving his first term on the Texas GOP’s State Republican Executive Committee.

McGinnis, who did not mention that Apley died of the coronavirus, remembered his colleague as “an advocate for liberty, limited government and the highest ideal of American Exceptionalism.”

Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi noted in a separate statement that Apley had “a long history of conservative political activism.”

On social media, Apley criticized the idea of businesses using vaccine passports. Supporters of such passports “are the same ones who were happy to see you shut down for a year because they were scared to leave their homes,” a man said on Facebook.

Apley piggybacked: “100 [percent] … right here!!”

When officials at the NRG Park Community Vaccination Center in Houston started offering goodies like NFL and Disney on Ice tickets to coax people into getting vaccinated, Apley posted a short, clear assessment to Facebook: “Disgusting.”

Apley is one of a growing number of highly publicized cases of people getting seriously ill or dying after railing against masks, bashing vaccines, playing down the gravity of the pandemic or merely being vaccine-hesitant.

Last month, a conservative talk-show host in Tennessee went to the emergency room after a coronavirus infection gave him pneumonia, The Post reported. Before getting sick, Phil Valentine had decided not to get vaccinated and used his radio show to frequently make fun of efforts to get more people inoculated.

An unvaccinated radio host is sick with covid. His family is ‘elated’ listeners are now getting the vaccine.

When he got sick, the radio host changed his mind, according to his brother, who said Valentine will use his show as a pro-vaccine platform when he gets back on air.

On Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he regretted signing a bill into law in April that banned local officials from imposing mask mandates. He has called for a special legislative session to reevaluate the ban as coronavirus infections surge across the state once more.

Over and over, the same refrain from people sick with covid: I wish I’d gotten the vaccine

A doctor in Alabama, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, last month wrote a detailed Facebook post about how a lot of “young healthy people” were being admitted to the hospital “with very serious” covid infections.

“One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine,” Brytney Cobia wrote. “I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”