A Texas politician dies of the virus he regularly downplayed on social media
A new father and Republican lawmaker in Texas has died of Covid-19 — a virus he often downplayed in social media posts. H. Scott Apley was admitted to a Galveston hospital on August 1st “with pneumonia-like symptoms.” He tested positive for the virus, was put on a ventilator, and then died — all within a matter of days.
Just a couple of days before Apley, who served on the Dickinson City Council, was hospitalized, he reposted a meme casting doubt on vaccines. “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.”
Back in April, he replied to a doctor touting the efficacy of the vaccines on Twitter by calling her “an absolute enemy of a free people.”
In other past posts, he railed against Republican Governor Greg Abbot for (briefly) closing down Texas in the beginning of the pandemic, and repeatedly told people calling for mask mandates in the state to “get a grip.”
It all adds up to one undeniable fact: disinformation is deadly. It’s been a scourge throughout the pandemic — as anyone who’s spent on social media would know — and health officials have expressed deep concern about how the falsehoods regularly shared online impact Americans’ decisions on whether to get the vaccine. The vast majority of those being hospitalized and dying from the virus right now are unvaccinated.
It’s hard not to wonder if things would have turned out differently for Apley if he had held different views about the virus. He isn’t the first (and he certainly won’t be the last) American to die of the virus after questioning its seriousness or knocking the need for vaccines. But knowing that he’s leaving behind a baby boy makes it a true tragedy, and anyone with a heart should agree with that statement regardless of Apley’s political views.
Just a month ago he posted on Facebook, “I hope to live a long time. I have a lot of things that I want to do, and see, and experience with my wife and my friends, and my family. And I have a lot of hopes and dreams for my son Reid.” It’s devastating to read that, knowing that his life would be cut short just a few weeks later.
Apley’s social media posts also show that he was a man with deeply held religious convictions, who viewed helping others as a major focus of his life. If his losing battle with Covid-19 helps others realize that it’s time to start taking the pandemic seriously and get vaccinated — his death may end up saving lives in the end.