The leader of an anti-mask movement in Texas has died from COVID-19.
Caleb Wallace, 30, who created the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, a group that held a rally to combat "COVID-19 tyranny," died after spending more than a month in the hospital, according to a message posted by his wife, Jessica Wallace, on a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover his hospital bills.
“Caleb has peacefully passed on. He will forever live in our hearts and minds,” Jessica Wallace wrote in a post on Saturday.
Caleb Wallace checked into the Shannon Medical Center on July 30 after contracting COVID-19, according to The New York Times.
Earlier that month, he organized a rally for people who were frustrated with the COVID-19 mitigation measures that had been put in place to contain the current surge in infections.
Caleb Wallace reportedly started feeling symptoms associated with COVID-19 — shortness of breath, high fever and a dry cough — on July 26, and they worsened the next day, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times.
He initially refused to go to the hospital and get tested for the virus, instead opting to take ivermectin — an anti-parasite medication used mostly in livestock that the Food and Drug Administration recently urged people not to take to treat COVID-19 — along with high doses of Vitamin C, zinc aspirin and an inhaler.
On July 30, however, a relative took him to the hospital, where he remained until his death.
On Aug. 27, Jessica Wallace wrote in a GoFundMe post that her husband “won’t make it much longer,” adding that he would be moved to comfort care the next day.
“To those who wished him death, I’m sorry his views and opinions hurt you. I prayed he’d come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life,” she wrote.
Caleb Wallace was a staunch critic of wearing masks to curb the spread of the virus, frequently questioning the science behind face coverings and dismissing them as an effective way to fight the pandemic.
He organized a “Freedom Rally” in July 2020 for people who were “sick of the government being in control of our lives,” the San Angelo Standard-Times reported.
Protesters at the event reportedly carried signs that criticized the use of face coverings, businesses being closed, the science behind COVID-19 and the media.
The group he founded was meant to “to educate and empower citizens to make informed choices concerning local, statewide, and national policy and to encourage them to actively participate in their duty to secure God-given and constitutionally protected rights,” the San Angelo Standard-Times reported, citing the group’s Facebook page.
“Show me the science that masks work,” Caleb Wallace wrote on Facebook in December 2020, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times.
“Show me the evidence that school closures work. Show me the evidence that lock-downs work,” he added.
The U.S. is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, driven largely by the highly infectious delta variant that has taken hold as the dominant strain in the country.
Health experts have touted the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting against serious COVID-19 infections. The vast majority of recent coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths have been among individuals who are not inoculated.