A Virginia pastor who criticized the “mass hysteria” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has died of the illness, according to new reports.
Landon Spradlin, of Gretna — a small town halfway between Lynchburg and Danville — started to feel sick while in New Orleans, where he went to preach to the crowds gathered for Mardi Gras celebrations, according to the BBC.
A month later, Spradlin — who was also a seasoned musician inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 — died.
“His mission was to go into pubs, clubs and bars, play the blues and connect with musicians and just tell them that Jesus loved them,” Spradlin’s daughter Jesse Spradlin, 28, told the BBC.
“Mardi Gras is like Times Square in New York during New Year’s Eve. It’s a sea of people just drinking and partying. He was loud and laughing and in his element.”
Spradlin began to feel unwell while in New Orleans but initially tested negative for COVID-19.
As he battled symptoms, he shared a controversial meme on March 13, comparing coronavirus deaths to swine flu deaths, Patch reported. The meme is no longer visible on his Facebook page.
The meme decried the public reaction to the pandemic as “mass hysteria” and suggested the media was using the outbreak to hurt President Donald Trump.
In the comments, the pastor said he believes the coronavirus “is a real issue, but I believe the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good.”
“It will come and it will go,” he wrote, according to Patch.
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