Caleb Wallace, a leader of the anti-mask movement in central Texas, was infected with the coronavirus and has been in an intensive care unit for three weeks, barely clinging to life, said his wife, Jessica.
Ms Wallace said her husband’s condition was declining and doctors were running out of treatment options. On Saturday, he will be transferred to a hospice at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas, so his family can say goodbye, she said.
Mr. Wallace, 30, has lived in San Angelo for most of his life and works in a company that sells welding equipment. He attended Shannon Medical Center on July 30. Ms. Wallace set up a GoFundMe page that raised over $ 27,000, to cover the cost of medical bills.
Earlier this month, Mr. Wallace organized a “rally for freedom” for people who “were fed up with the government controlling our lives.”
He founded the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, a group that staged a rally to end the “tyranny of Covid-19,” according to a YouTube interview with him.
“They thought the coronavirus was a hoax and they felt the government was too tough on masks,” San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter said in an interview.
In April, Mr. Wallace wrote a letter to the San Angelo Independent School District demanding they “immediately reverse ALL policies related to COVID” and questioning the science and effectiveness of masks for schoolchildren.
Mr Wallace’s father, Russell Wallace, said his son strongly believes the mask and vaccination requirements violate individual freedoms. “After seeing the whole government go too far here, he decided he wanted to do something,” said Russell Wallace.
Ms Wallace, who is pregnant with the couple’s fourth child, told the San Angelo Standard-Times that when her husband first felt sick, he took a mixture of vitamin C, zinc, aspirin and ivermectin – a medicine typically used to treat parasitic worms. in humans and animals which has been touted as a treatment for coronaviruses, but has recently been shown to be ineffective against the virus.
She said her husband respected his own decision to wear a mask. “We joked about how he was on one side and he was on the other, and that’s what made us the perfect couple and we balanced out,” she said.
She added that her three children were up to date on their vaccines and that she herself was planning to be vaccinated against the coronavirus after the birth of her baby in late September. “We are not anti-vaccines,” she said.
Still, Ms Wallace said her husband firmly believes the decision to get vaccinated or wear a mask should be up to an individual, not the government. “This is one of the few things that I have come to an agreement on with my husband.”
Mayor Gunter said Mr. Wallace had an overwhelming love for his city. During the state’s record winter storm in February, Mr. Wallace and his father volunteered to lead residents trapped in their homes.
“When we are called to action, we forget about these differences and just do the right thing,” she said. Shannon Medical Center currently has 70 percent of its intensive care beds full. In August, Tom Green County, which contains San Angelo, saw its seven-day average of new cases reach its highest level since November 2020, according to a New York Times database.
Russell Wallace, who also contracted Covid-19, said he was in hospital with his son for 13 days, but his condition improved enough for him to return home.
Despite his own illness and his son’s critical condition, Mr Wallace said he still strongly believes masks are ineffective and that the government should not impose masks or vaccinations. Himself, however, decided to “search” to get the shots.
“Personally, for me, I don’t hesitate so much to get vaccinated now,” he said. “I looked at this barrel and quite honestly it scared me.”