One of the first deaths of a Virginian from coronavirus was a 66-year-old Christian "musical evangelist" who fell ill while on a trip to New Orleans with his wife. As the Friendly Atheist's Bo Gardiner points out, Landon Spradlin had previously shared opinions that the pandemic was the result of "mass hysteria" from the media.
On March 13, Spradlin shared a misleading meme that compared coronavirus deaths to swine flu deaths and suggested the media is using the pandemic to hurt Trump. In the comments, Spradlin acknowledged that the outbreak is a "real issue," but added that he believes "the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good"
"It will come and it will go," he wrote.
That same day, he shared a post from another pastor that told the story of a missionary in South Africa who "protected" himself from the bubonic plague with the "Spirit of God."
"As long as I walk in the light of that law [of the Spirit of life], no germ will attach itself to me," read a quote from the post.
On March 17, Jean and Landon Spradlin were returning home from a traveling ministry in New Orleans because he hadn’t been feeling well. Landon Spradlin had both bronchitis and a small case of pneumonia, and had already tested negative for the coronavirus while in New Orleans.
The pneumonia, however, got worse. He wasn’t breathing right when Jean Spradlin tried to pull her husband out of the car during a stop in Concord, North Carolina.
“When I got his feet on the ground they crumpled,” she said.
Bystanders at a convenience store called 911 and he was transported to Atrium Health Cabarrus, a hospital in Concord. Doctors placed him on a ventilator and diagnosed him with double pneumonia — meaning both lungs were infected.
Spradlin tested positive for COVID-19 in the hospital and died on Wednesday.