Tributes Paid to Stephen Harmon, Unvaccinated Man Who Died From COVID in His 30s

Tributes have poured in for a young man who died of COVID and chronicled his illness on social media.

Stephen Harmon, who was in his early 30s, passed away recently, according to a tweet on Thursday posted by Brian Houston, pastor at Hillsong Church, the megachurch organization of which Harmon was a supporter.

Houston, who has nearly 600,000 Twitter followers and over 700,000 more on Instagram, said in a follow-up post about Harmon: "He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him."

Harmon, who was apparently unvaccinated based on an Instagram post from earlier this month, had made several updates over the past week or so as his COVID ordeal progressed.

He wrote how he had been diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia following his COVID infection and how he deteriorated over a period of days.

Last week, Harmon wrote that he was struggling to breathe and that he was on "the max oxygen they can give me."

"I'm overwhelmed by the kindness shown by so many of you over these last three weeks," he said.

Harmon underwent intubation, when a tube is inserted into the windpipe to help get air into the lungs of patients who are struggling to breathe on their own, this week and passed away shortly afterwards.

His death drew a lot of attention on social media, with some of his posts since attracting hundreds of likes and comments encouraging people to take the vaccine.

One Instagram user wrote in a reply to Houston's post: "RIP. Please get vaccinated everyone. This is too tragic. A young life lost way too soon."

Hillsong Church told Newsweek: "Any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.

"On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors. While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals."

Large Increase in U.S. Covid Cases

Across the U.S., COVID cases are rising significantly with more than 55,000 new infections reported on July 21, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. That was up from 36,905 a week earlier.

The Biden administration has fallen short of meeting its May target of getting 70 percent of adults to receive at least one vaccine shot by July 4. Currently, CDC data shows only 68.6 percent of the population aged 18 or over have had at least one dose.

Meanwhile, 162.2 million U.S. citizens have been fully vaccinated, representing 48.8 percent of the total population.

It's unclear exactly how much of the new COVID wave can be attributed to vaccine hesitancy. A July 7 CDC report into vaccine confidence stated that concerns about side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis "were widespread."

The report also found that some people were concerned that vaccination requirements for work or events "infringed on their civil liberties."

It recommended federal and state officials should work together to increase transparency about vaccine guidance and confront misinformation.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday: "All this misinformation that's floating around is having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost, and that is tragic."

Vaccine being given
A medical worker receives a COVID vaccine in Santiago, Chile, in December 2020. Currently, just under half of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. Marcelo Hernandez/Getty