Former Alabama GOP Senator Says 'We Messed Up' COVID Response Before Dying From Virus

A former Alabama state senator and longtime chair on a Medical Examiners board left an ominous warning to his state before passing from COVID-19 last week.

Larry Dixon left the warning in a bid to prevent more deaths from the virus that took his life at the age of 78, according to a close friend.

Dr. David Thrasher, a critical care pulmonologist who treated Dixon early in his illness, said his friend was exposed at a social gathering.

Before being placed on a ventilator, Dixon told his wife Gaynell Dixon they had "messed up" and asked her to urge people to take the virus seriously.

"We messed up," Dixon said. "We just let our guard down. Please tell everybody to take this thing seriously and get help as soon as you get the virus."

Dixon, a Republican who represented District 25, the area east and south of Montgomery, served in the state senate from 1983 to 2010 and retired after serving seven terms.

Dixon also served as the head of the State Board of Medical Examiners for 35 years, retiring in 2016. It was there where he met Dr. Thrasher more than 30 years ago.

"He was loved by everybody," Thrasher told AL.com. "He was a great personal friend, the nicest kindest guy and his last words were, 'hey let's prevent this. Let's save some lives.'"

Dixon's death was confirmed by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners in a statement on Friday.

"While we mourn Larry Dixon's passing, we are forever grateful for his distinguished service to the medical profession and to the state of Alabama," said Dr. Mark LeQuire, chairman of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and William Perkins, executive director of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

"He set an incredible example of service for us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gaynell, and his family during this difficult time."

Alabama state capitol building Montgomery
Alabama state capitol building in Montgomery. iStock

Dixon served four terms on the U.S. Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and was the first president of the Administrators in Medicine, an organization he helped charter.

He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and he was inducted into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame in 2016.

Perry Hooper, a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, also released a statement about Dixon's passing.

"He served as one of my mentors when I was elected to the Alabama Legislature," Hooper said. "Senator Dixon was the most fiscally responsible Legislator I served with in my 20 years in the House ... He was a great legislator, a man of great moral character, and a devoted and loving husband and father."

"He's a great person, a great legislator, a great husband to Gaynell, a great daddy to his two girls," Hooper told the Montgomery Advisor. "He's going to be missed in so many ways."

The Federation of State Medical Boards awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and he was inducted in 2016 to the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame. The building that houses the medical board in Montgomery is named the Dixon-Parker Building in his honor.

The number of daily new cases of COVID-19 in Alabama topped 3,000 for five consecutive days last week, breaking a new record for the state. Hospitalizations also hit all time highs.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, show the current state of the pandemic in the U.S. and the world.

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