Texas man who argued ‘masks aren’t going to save you’ contracts COVID-19, no longer breathes on own

Texas man who argued ‘masks aren’t going to save you’ contracts COVID-19, no longer breathes on own

As the delta variant continues to spread across the country, unvaccinated individuals are facing the worst of it. Many of those who once organized against pandemic safety measures like wearing masks and getting vaccinated are now battling the virus in hospitals. In one incident, a Texas man who helped organize protests against COVID-19 restrictions is fighting for his life after being hospitalized for almost a month, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported.

“He’s not doing good. It’s not looking in our favor,” said Caleb Wallace’s wife, Jessica. “His lungs are stiff due to the fibrosis. They called and said they’ve run out of options for him and asked if I would consent to a do not resuscitate. And it would be up to us when to stop treatments,” Jessica wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “My heart just can’t. I can’t imagine my life without him.”

Caleb Wallace, a 30-year-old father of three, has been unconscious, ventilated, and heavily sedated in the ICU at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo since Aug. 8. On a  GoFundMe page she started to help pay household and medical bills, his wife said he was intubated multiple times, had high fevers, an infection, and bleeding in his chest.

Wallace first had symptoms on July 26, his wife told the Standard-Times. After experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, he refused to get tested or seek medical care.

“Every time he would start to cough, it would turn into a coughing attack, and then that would cause him to completely go out of breath,” Jessica said. “He was so hard-headed. He didn’t want to see a doctor, because he didn’t want to be part of the statistics with COVID tests.”

Instead, he began treating himself with a cocktail of Vitamin C, zinc, aspirin, and ivermectin— an anti-parasitic drug that has been falsely promoted by some as an effective cure for COVID-19. Within four days, he was taken to the hospital.

“He couldn’t breathe on his own,” Jessica said. “The first week he was able to be on oxygen. By the morning of (Aug. 8), he had to be ventilated.”

Despite warnings from the FDA not to take it, conservatives in states nationwide have been taking ivermectin. There is no evidence the drug works as an effective treatment for COVID-19 but despite this, conservative media outlets including Fox News have pushed for it. Bottles of the chemical note that it is “not for human consumption, it’s for deworming cattle and horses. Yet, within a year Texas reported an increase of 552% of cases reported of ivermectin poisoning statewide,” ABC News affiliate WFAA reported.

But taking ivermectin to fight COVID-19 isn’t all Wallace believed in. According to his wife, he was also extremely anti-masks and believed they would not prevent infection. In April, he even wrote a letter to the San Angelo Independent School District that was published by a local news outlet, demanding that the school district “rescind ALL COVID-related policies immediately.” In it, he claimed that wearing masks had harmful effects on children and there was “little evidence that masks worked for anyone.”

“Caleb would tell me, ‘You know masks aren’t going to save you,’ but he understood I wanted to wear them,” Jessica said. Jessica told the Standard-Times that she was “less conservative” than her husband and chose to wear a mask. “It gives me comfort to know that maybe, just maybe, I’m either protecting someone or avoiding it myself.” 

Founder of “The San Angelo Freedom Defenders,” a group that hosted a rally last year to “end COVID tyranny,” Wallace reportedly helped organize multiple anti-mask and vaccine rallies including one called  “The Freedom Rally,” which occurred days before he began experiencing symptoms. The event prided itself in being a protest against the “government being in control of our lives.”

Wallace’s story follows similar incidents across the country, in which those who opposed COVID-19 safety precautions or called the virus a hoax contracted severe cases. 

“I have three kids and a fourth on the way. To keep them strong, I remind them how much their daddy loves them and how loved they are by so many,” Jessica said. “I’m definitely not strong, but I have to be for my girls — I have to.”

In Texas, cases continue to skyrocket with only 47% of Texas’ eligible population being fully vaccinated. Health professionals are urging mask wearing and social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19 but have been met with resistance from lawmakers, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has downplayed the virus since the start of the pandemic but recently tested positive himself.

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