H. Scott Apley, a member of the Galveston County Republican Party, died of Covid-19 on Wednesday, August 4. He was 45 years old.
Apley's death symbolizes yet another life lost to the consequences of disinformation about the virus; he died just a few days after uploading a Facebook post in which he shared a screenshot of a Twitter post mocking Covid-19.
The post read:
"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, to you can still die of Covid even if vaxxed, to the unvaxxed are killing the vaxxed."
Apley was admitted to a Galveston hospital two days after that post with pneumonia-like symptoms. He tested positive for Covid-19 and was placed on a ventilator, dying soon afterward. A report from local news affiliate KTRK notes that his wife and child have also tested positive for the virus.
Apley had shared other Facebook posts expressing support for burning masks.
He also criticized vaccine incentives, referring to them as "disgusting."
The Galveston County Republican Party wrote a tribute to Apley on Facebook, calling his death a "tragedy." The organization made no mention of Covid-19, Apley's penchant for sharing Covid-19 disinformation, or of the role that same disinformation played in his death.
The organization wrote, in part:
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share the news of the death of H Scott Apley, our friend, our Patriot in Arms, our State Republican Executive Committeeman, Precinct Chair, Dickinson City Council Member. A tragedy. Please pray for Melissa and Reid and their family. God remains in control although this is yet another tough one to swallow."
The circumstances behind Apley's death soon went viral.
With that came a slew of criticism. Apley's death was, by and large, totally preventable.
His passing did not inspire much sympathy for him or the Republican Party, which many hold responsible for parroting outright false and misleading information about the pandemic.
In fact, Apley's death served as an opportunity for critics to call for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
There is overwhelming evidence that vaccines save lives. Despite the risk posed by the highly contagious Delta variant, Covid-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. In the last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance for fully vaccinated people based on new evidence on the Delta variant.
While we know that infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant, the longer others remain unvaccinated, the longer we can expect this public health crisis to continue.
Don't be like Apley: By championing vaccines, some good can come out of a preventable tragedy.