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Texas Republican leader dies of COVID-19 five days after anti-vaccination post
A Texas Republican leader who was hospitalized with COVID-19 died Wednesday, just days after he shared a post on social media questioning the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine.
The Galveston County Republican Party said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning that Scott Apley, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and Dickinson City Council, had died.
While the party did not specify the cause of death, a GoFundMe page that had been set up for Apley and his family said he was admitted to a hospital Sunday with "pneumonia-like symptoms and tested positive for COVID."
As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $30,000.
Apley, 45, is survived by his wife, Melissa, who according to the fundraising page has also tested positive for the coronavirus but has not been hospitalized, and their infant son.
The county Republican Party said in its Facebook post that Apley's death was "a tragedy," and called on supporters to "please pray for Melissa and Reid and their family."
"God remains in control although this is yet another tough one to swallow," the organization added.
Apley, who was elected to the Dickinson City Council in November after a failed 2019 bid, had shared a post on Facebook just two days before he was hospitalized that appeared to question the credibility and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"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," the post read in part.
Apley had also previously vocalized his opposition to vaccinations and mask mandates, and in May shared a flyer for a mask burning event.
In April, the Republican leader commented on a Twitter post from public health expert Leana Wen, who shared findings from a trial indicating that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech remains effective against the virus for at least six months after the second dose.
Apley replied to the tweet by writing, "You are an absolute enemy of a free people," and "#ShoveTheCarrotWhereTheSunDontShine."
Texas Republican Party Chairman Matt Rinaldi said in a statement Wednesday that the state party was "incredibly saddened" by Apley's death.
"Please join me in lifting the Apley family up in prayer," he said. "We will miss Scott deeply but find comfort knowing he is at peace in the arms of our Savior."
Apley's death comes as both Democratic and Republican elected officials are ramping up calls for Americans to get vaccinated as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads across the U.S., particularly among individuals who are unvaccinated.
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday, the delta variant now accounts for about 93 percent of infections in the U.S.