A Virginia man who downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus as merely the media "pumping out fear" has died after contracting the virus.
Landon Spradlin, 66, a pastor and traveling musician, died on Wednesday, March 25, at a hospital in North Carolina after testing positive for COVID-19.
As first reported by Patch, nearly two weeks before his death Spradlin shared a meme on his Facebook page suggesting the media "can manipulate your life."
The post compared the "mass hysteria" surrounding the number of deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. while Donald Trump has been president compared to the deaths from H1N1 under Barack Obama's administration.
In the comments section underneath the March 13 post, Spradlin wrote that while he knows COVID-19 is real, the "real issue" is "the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good.
"It will come and it will go," he added.
Facebook has since flagged the post as displaying "partly false information" after being reviewed by independent fact-checkers.
Following reports of his death, Spradlin's Facebook page has been littered with people mocking and criticizing him for his views on the virus.
Spradlin's daughter Judah Strickland has described her heartache that she wasn't able to say goodbye to her father at the hospital in Concord, North Carolina, because she was restricted from seeing him.
"I said 'look, I haven't seen my dad in almost six weeks,' she told WSLS. "Please let me go see him. And she [hospital worker] said 'look under any other circumstances we would, but this is uncharted territory for us.'"
Elsewhere, a GoFundMepage raising money for Spradlin's family has since gone on to raise more than $22,000.
Spradlin is one of two people to be recorded to have died from the virus in North Carolina, the second being a patient in their late 70s.
"We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement.
"This is a stark warning that for some people COVID-19 is a serious illness. All of us must do our part to stop the spread by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing."
There are more than 86,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., making it the country with the highest number in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,300 have died from the coronavirus, with 753 patients managing to recover.
This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases by state.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
• Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
• Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
• Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
• Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
• Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
• If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
• Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
• Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
Mask and glove usage:
• Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
• Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
• Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
• Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
• Do not reuse single-use masks.
• Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
• The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.