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Phil Valentine, conservative radio host and vaccine skeptic, dies of COVID-19

Phil Valentine, a conservative radio talk show host who was a vaccine skeptic and disagreed with mask mandates up until he was diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, has died at age 61.

"We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away," his station, SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, tweeted Saturday afternoon. "Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers."

Valentine, whose show first went on-air in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1995 and was eventually syndicated to several cities across the country, confirmed he was diagnosed with the coronavirus in a Facebook post on July 11, CBS affiliate WTVF-TV reports.

"Yes, the rumors are true," he wrote on Facebook. "I have COVID. Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I'm going to make it."

He called the illness an "interesting experience" and said he would fill listeners in when he was 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," he wrote.

A few weeks later, the radio station shared an update on their Facebook page from Valentine's family, who said his condition had worsened.

"Phil contracted the Covid virus a little over a week ago & has since been hospitalized & is in very serious condition, suffering from Covid Pneumonia and the attendant side effects," the post said. "He is in the hospital in the critical care unit breathing with assistance but is NOT on a ventilator. We'd ask that everyone please refrain from contacting him while he is in the hospital."

The post concluded with his family urging people to get vaccinated: "Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!"

Valentine's brother, Mark Valentine, also spoke on the radio after his brother's condition began to deteriorate, saying that Valentine was, "regretful that he wasn't a more vocal advocate of the vaccination," according to AP. "For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, 'Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories.'"

Prior to his diagnosis, Valentine voiced skepticism about the coronavirus vaccines.

In December of 2020 he tweeted "I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?"

He also recorded a parody song titled "Vaxman," which mocked the vaccine, according to WTVF.

Prior to his hospitalization, Valentine said on the radio that he was "taking vitamin D like crazy" and that a doctor agreed to prescribe him an anti-parasite drug called ivermectin, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said not to take the medication to treat or prevent COVID-19.

"Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for horses," the administration said, adding that ivermectin has not been approved by the FDA for use in treating or preventing COVID-19 in humans.

Vitamin D is also not proven to help treat COVID-19, with the National Institute for Health stating there "is insufficient evidence to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19."

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