The man in this video seems rational but he was a fascist and a moron. "Was?" Yeah, not "is," because he had a horrible long drawn-out death on a ventilator in the hospital this week because he believed the crock of shit he was feeding people, killing his friends and neighbors. Now he can't lie about his "positive alternatives" any longer. How many people in Tom Green County would still be alive if Caleb Wallace had died a year ago? How many lives-- even besides his own family's-- would have not been wrecked if not for Caleb Wallace, the Texas state coordinator of the West Texas Minutemen? Notice he was proud to announce that the John Birch Society was showing up for his event promoting anomie. (And what responsibility does the local TV station have for promoting this kind of thing?)
A writer and pastor I know and respect announced on a listserv we're both members of that his doctor told him he has a benign cyst at the base of his skull. I have place in my home dedicated to prayer and meditation and I took it on myself to pray for a safe surgery for him. I do that kind of thing. But this time I got a response. It was clear and simple: "stop hoping that right-wingers die from COVID." Message received.
Caleb Wallace, a 30 year old father of 3 small children with a fourth on the way, has been hospitalized with COVID since the beginning of August. He's unconscious, on a ventilator in an intensive care unit in Shannon Hospital in San Angelo, in Tom Green County, Texas, a county that gave Trump 71.5% of its vote last year. And although Texas is 47% fully vaccinated, Tom Green County lags badly-- just 37% vaccinated, with a 50% increased in COVID cases in the last 2 weeks and a hospitalization rate that increased by 33% in the same period. Friday, the NY Times reported that "cases have increased recently and are extremely high. The numbers of hospitalized Covid patients and deaths in the Tom Green County area have also risen. The test positivity rate in Tom Green County is very high, suggesting that cases are being significantly undercounted. Because of high spread, the C.D.C. recommends that even vaccinated people wear masks here... An average of 142 cases per day were reported in Tom Green County, a 50 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 6 residents have been infected, a total of 21,175 reported cases. Right now, Tom Green County is at an extremely high risk for unvaccinated people. So far, August has been the month with the highest average cases since November 2020 in Tom Green County."
According to his distraught wife, Caleb has been on the ventilator for 12 days and "his chances of recovery are 'slim to none' without advanced medical care... [She] is unsure if her husband is ever coming home."
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 burns through Texas like viral wildfire, adding fuel to the flames is the state's relatively low vaccination rate. Less than 56% of all Texans above the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated.
"In the Concho Valley, about 8 out of 10 people who are positive are not vaccinated," Schultz said, noting that while some patients who test positive are fully vaccinated, they usually do not require hospitalization.
Health experts pushing for masks and social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19 have met resistance from Texas lawmakers, like Gov. Greg Abbott, who recently tested positive for the virus himself, though he is fully vaccinated.
Abbott is currently embroiled in several legal challenges from his ban on mask mandates as more than 5 million Texas students return to public school.
The battle between public health and personal freedom is a familiar one in Tom Green County, of which San Angelo resident Caleb Wallace took an active role.
On July 4, 2020, Caleb helped organize "The Freedom Rally." A flyer for the event called it a peaceful protest by people “sick of the government being in control of our lives.” Signs carried by protesters that day criticized the wearing of masks, business closures, the science behind COVID-19, and liberal media.
...In addition to the rally, Caleb organized "The San Angelo Freedom Defenders," a group "to educate and empower citizens to make informed choices concerning local, statewide, and national policy and to encourage them to actively participate in their duty to secure God-given and constitutionally protected rights," as stated on the group's Facebook page.
Using both the Freedom Defender's page and his own social media presence, Caleb criticized the government's handling of the pandemic and guidelines advocated by health experts.
"Show me the science that masks work," Caleb wrote on the City of San Angelo's official Facebook in December 2020. "Show me the evidence that school closures work. Show me the evidence that lock-downs work."
In 2020, Caleb appeared in video interviews with local media outlets denouncing mask policies and school closures at San Angelo ISD. As late as April 2021, he penned a letter demanding the school district rescind all its COVID-19 protocols, claiming that science didn't support their need.
At one point during the pandemic, the Freedom Defenders collected a list of local businesses in the San Angelo area who were asking residents to wear masks as a prerequisite for entry, information its members could use to avoid shopping at those locations.
The page belonging to the Freedom Defenders appeared to be deactivated from Facebook shortly after Caleb was hospitalized for COVID-19.
On July 26, Jessica [his mask-wearing wife] said her husband began experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus: shortness of breath, high fever, and a dry cough. Those symptoms became worse the following day.
"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.
At first, Caleb refused to get tested for COVID-19, or go to the hospital.
"He was so hard-headed," Jessica said. "He didn't want to see a doctor, because he didn't want to be part of the statistics with COVID tests."
Caleb instead began taking tablets of ivermectin (an anti-parasitic medicine the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has since urged people not to take for COVID-19), high doses of Vitamin C, zinc aspirin, and an inhaler. By July 30, however, Caleb was taken by a relative to the emergency room at Shannon Medical Center.
...Jessica said she's praying for her husband to get well again, but that Caleb's chances of survival will come down to one of two miracles: either he makes a full recovery on his own, or he gets approved for advanced medical treatment.
A medical device known as an ECMO machine is Jessica's "last hope," but all her efforts so far to find an available device have proven unsuccessful.
Short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, the ECMO machine works by inserting a plastic tube into a large vein and/or artery through the neck, chest or groin of the patient. Essentially, the device helps patients by acting as their heart and lungs, giving organs a chance to rest and heal.
As of Aug. 21, 2021, the number of hospitals who have available ECMO machines are scarce, and thanks to COVID-19, the waiting list is long.
Shannon Hospital does not have an ECMO machine. The nearest medical centers that do are places awash in COVID-19 hospitalizations, like San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, according to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, the world's largest registry of ECMO and ECLS Centers.
"We've been calling people left and right trying to find that miracle," Jessica said. "A hospital in Plano removed (Caleb) from their waiting list because he's been intubated too long. ... Without that machine, the doctors have said Caleb's chances are 'slim to none.'"
...At around 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, Jessica said her husband had only hours to live.
"Caleb won’t make it much longer," she wrote in an update on GoFundMe, which Jessica began to help offset bills. "He will be moved to comfort care tomorrow and I will get to be there with him until it’s his time to return to our father in heaven."
She concluded her update, stating:
"I appreciate everyone all the good and the bad. You all have the right to feel the way you feel as Caleb once fought for his beliefs. He was an imperfect man but he loved his family and his little girls more than anything," Jessica said.
"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. I can’t say much more than that because I can’t speak for him," Jessica said.
Jessica, who is a stay-at-home mother of three, started a GoFundMe campaign to help with family bills.
Is it hard to feel sympathy for people like Caleb Wallace, not just because he refused to follow public health guidelines but because he aggressively lashed out at people who did? How about Wisconsin state Sen André Jacque? He isn't dead yet, but the 400 pound far right legislator who wrote an anti-mask mandate bill and then hid his COVID diagnosis from his colleagues, is on a ventilator. The 40 year old Jacque has 6 children, some of whom are also infected. The local Fox affiliate reported that "Jacque sponsored bills that would have prohibited government officials or business owners from requiring vaccinations for COVID-19 or proof of vaccination in order to receive services. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed both bills, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed. Jacque also opposed a statewide mask mandate that Evers put in effect but that was struck down in March by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
A message from André Jacque's brother Pierre: