Fred Lowry, 66, a councilman for Volusia County, Florida, once claimed in a controversial, conspiracy-filled sermon that, “We did not have a pandemic ... We were lied to.” Now, his colleagues say he has been in hospital for weeks with the virus.
"He is in the hospital wrestling with COVID-19," county chair Jeff Brower told The Daytona Beach News-Journal on Tuesday. "It’s been about three weeks now."
“I am praying for Volusia County Councilman Fred Lowry who is ‘in the hospital wrestling with COVID-19’” Daytona Beach mayor Derrick Henry wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
The conservative councilman, who is a pastor at Deltona Lakes Baptist Church, faced calls to resign in May following the sermon, where he called Dr Anthony Fauci “Dr Falsey,” and spread a number of other conspiracies, including that global warming was a hoax and that, according to the QAnon movement, Hollywood elites were running paedophile rings.
"This is supposed to be rampant I hear in Hollywood and among the elite," Mr Lowry said during the address. "I don’t know if it’s true, but where there’s smoke."
His comments inspired outrage locally.
"We are calling into serous question Mr. Lowry’s ability and judgement when it comes to making significant decisions that will affect the lives of those living here in Volusia County. Decisions made by the Volusia County Council should be rooted in fact," Rev Dr L. Ronald Durham, president of the Volusia County Democratic Black Caucus, said at the time. "Mr Lowry cannot be trusted to make sound fact-based decisions when he is preaching about cabals of Satanists using the blood of kidnapped children to get high and live longer.”
Mr Lowry is one of numerous Floridians to catch the virus in recent days, as lagging vaccination rates, the highly contagious Delta variant, and lax public health measures have combined to send new cases to their highest level at any point during the pandemic.
In mid-August, the state was averaging nearly 30,000 new cases a day and had the highest hospitalisation rate for Covid in the country. Since then, new cases have declined, though coronavirus deaths are still up 11 per cent over the last two weeks.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has pushed to punish local officials who impose mask and vaccine requirements.