Phil Valentine, a Tennessee radio host who expressed skepticism over vaccines, has died from COVID-19 complications.
SuperTalk 99.7 WTN confirmed the news on social media Saturday, more than a month after the conservative media personality announced his COVID diagnosis.
“We are extremely saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away,” the station wrote. “Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The 61-year-old had used his platform to challenge the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, even after he contracted the disease in mid-July. Shortly after his diagnosis, Valentine took to Facebook to reassure his followers he had no intention of getting inoculated, writing: “Doing my patriotic duty for natural herd immunity.”
“I have COVID. Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it,” he wrote in a July 11 post. “Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution. It’ll be a game time decision.”
Valentine’s condition worsened over the following weeks and he was eventually admitted to the critical care unit. On July 23, his brother Mark Valentine released a statement on behalf of the family, saying Valentine was “suffering from Covid Pneumonia” and remained in “very serious condition.” The message also indicated that Valentine had changed his tune about the vaccines.
“Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine’, and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon,” the post read in part. “Phil & his family would like for all of you to know that he loves ya’ll and appreciates your concern, thoughts & prayers more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!”
According to USAFacts, about 40 percent of Tennessee’s population was fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, and about 45 percent of the population had received at least one dose.