A Texas man who led rallies against mask mandates and coronavirus-related lockdowns has died after a month-long battle with COVID-19.
The San Angelo Standard-Times and the Associated Press and report that Caleb Wallace, 30, died on Saturday. Wallace had contracted the virus in late July and had been hospitalized since early August.
The Standard-Times reports the Wallace was an organizer for the "The San Angelo Freedom Defenders," a group dedicated to fighting for "God-given and constitutionally protected rights" and fighting against COVID-19 restrictions, which they saw as government overreach.
Wallace also helped organize "The Freedom Rally," a July 4, 2020, rally in San Angelo where protesters carried signs criticizing mask mandates, business closures and the science behind COVID-19.
The New York Times reports that Wallace continued his activism into 2021. In April, he wrote a letter to the San Angelo Independent School District demanding they "rescind ALL COVID-related policies immediately."
Wallace contracted the virus in late July. The Times and Times-Standard report that he took vitamin C, zinc, aspirin and ivermectin — a drug typically prescribed to large animals as a de-wormer which the FDA and CDC have both recently warned is not safe for use in treating COVID-19.
Wallace was hospitalized in early August, but his condition continued to deteriorate. He was quickly placed on a ventilator, which would help him breathe for two weeks. He was later moved to hospice, and according to a GoFundMe page started by his family, he died on Saturday.
It's unclear if Wallace was vaccinated, though the Times reports that he "strongly believed the decision to get vaccinated or to wear a mask should rest with an individual and not with the government."
Wallace's wife, Jessica, told the Times that her children are up-to-date on their vaccines and that she planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine after she gives birth in September. She also said she had worn a mask throughout the pandemic.
"We joked around about how he was on one side and I was on the other, and that's what made us the perfect couple and we balanced each other out," Jessica Wallace told the New York Times.
Jessica Wallace later wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page that she hoped her husband would have a "new perspective" if he had recovered.
"You all have the right to feel the way you feel as Caleb once fought for his beliefs," she wrote. "To those who wished him death, I'm sorry his views and opinions hurt you. I prayed he'd come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life."