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A Virginia pastor's death following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis despite his own downplaying of the virus' severity is getting renewed attention in mainstream news outlets, with the pastor's surviving family criticizing what they believe is an "agenda-driven" climate.
Pastor Landon Spradlin, who notably downplayed the virus on social media by deeming it a case of media "hysteria" and even once shared a post misleadingly comparing it with swine flu, died late last month after having developed pneumonia in both lungs and testing positive for COVID-19.
"I was frustrated with the way that the media was very agenda driven, and it's on both sides," daughter Jesse Spradlin said, per BBC News. "I feel like the coronavirus issue turned into something that was 'party against party' instead of one nation under God."
The aforementioned post shared by Pastor Spradlin, the report states, also included the suggestion that the virus was being used for political gain as part of an attempt to smear Trump. Trump, of course, has espoused similar rhetoric.
The pastor and his wife, Jean Spradlin, drove from Virginia to Louisiana for Mardi Gras proceedings a little over a month ago. The pastor, who was also a musician, is said to have viewed the massive gathering as an opportunity to "save the souls" of attendees. According to his family, the virus was discussed during the trip.
Then, Pastor Spradlin got sick but initially tested negative, with the "hysteria" comments on social media arriving around the same time. And later, his health took a drastic turn, at which point Pastor Spradlin and his family started to make their way back home. He was ultimately taken to a hospital in North Carolina, at which point he received a positive diagnosis and died eight days later in ICU.
Religious leaders nationwide have come under fire in recent weeks for varying degrees of not taking the virus seriously, a tactic which has resulted in arrest for several pastors who have refused to abide by social distancing guidelines.