Mark Bernier is the third anti-vax radio host to die in as many weeks.
A conservative radio host who referred to himself as "Mr Anti-Vax" has died of Covid-19.
Mark Bernier, a popular host with Florida's WNDB, died on Saturday after a three-week battle with the disease, aged 65.
"It's with great sadness that WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years," the station tweeted. "We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief."
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">It’s with great sadness that WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years. We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief. <a href="https://t.co/vXQIAtVN9e">pic.twitter.com/vXQIAtVN9e</a></p>— News Daytona Beach (@NewsDaytonaBch) <a href="https://twitter.com/NewsDaytonaBch/status/1431770446282768388?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">August 29, 2021</a>
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Just three weeks earlier his employers had informed listeners of his diagnosis:
"Marc Bernier will remain off-the-air this week as he recovers from complications from COVID induced pneumonia," it wrote. "News Daytona Beach, WNDB, and Southern Stone Communications wish Marc a speedy recovery and hope to have him back on the air as soon as possible."
The 30-year veteran, who was described as fair and balanced by former guests on both sides of the political spectrum, was an outspoken opponent of vaccinations in general, and told listeners on air he was refusing to get the Covid shot.
On one show in December, one week after the Pfizer jab had gotten its initial approval, his co-host Justin Gates asked him if he would take it, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
"I'm not taking it," he replied. "Are you kidding me? Mr. Anti-Vax? Jeepers."
"Ever?" Gates asked. "No," Bernier replied.
Volusia County Sheriff and longtime guest Mike Chitwood told the outlet that although they didn't always agree on everything, they remained fast friends
"I'm numb. To me, this is a death in the family," he said. "We had the ability to do that give and take... You don't have to agree with everything a person says for them to be your friend. I don't think a lot of people get that."
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Bernier is the third anti-vax radio host to fall victim to the deadly disease in as many weeks.
Just last week, Tennessee's 99.7 WTN host Phil Valentine died after claiming on his blog that should he ever be infected, there was a "way less than one percent" it would be fatal.
According to the New York Times, he pledged on July 11 right after being diagnosed that he would return to work tomorrow, or the day after "as a precaution".
"Yes, the rumors are true. I have COVID," he wrote on Facebook at the time. "Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I'm going to make it. Interesting experience. I'll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I'm hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution. It'll be a game time decision."
But less than two weeks later, his employers informed listeners he had been hospitalized "in very serious condition, suffering from Covid pneumonia."
"Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an 'anti-vaxer' he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon," the station said.
On August 21, they broke the sad news that he had died, aged 62.
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and prayers. <a href="https://t.co/vhXpE7x0oX">pic.twitter.com/vhXpE7x0oX</a></p>— SuperTalk 99.7 WTN (@997wtn) <a href="https://twitter.com/997wtn/status/1429190686222557184?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">August 21, 2021</a>
On August 4, another Florida outspoken vaccine critic, Dick Farrel, who once referred to Dr Anthony Fauci as a "power tripping lying freak", also succumbed to the virus, aged 65 — but not before changing his tune on his deathbed.
"Why take a vax promoted by people who lied 2u all along about masks," he wrote in July, questioning why "not one elected Democrat" had tested positive.
"Vaccine Bogus Bull Shid!, Two peeps I know, got vaxed, now have Corona, hospitalized critical. Thank you Moderna, FOR NOTHING!" he also wrote on Facebook.
But the day he died, his close friend Amy Leigh Hair revealed on Facebook that he had urged her to get vaccinated.
"Covid Took One Of My Best Friends! RIP Dick Farrel. He is the reason I took the shot!" she wrote. "He texted me and told me to 'Get it!' He told me that this virus is no joke and he said: 'I wish I had gotten it!'
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">Vocal anti-vaccine broadcaster Dick Farrel dies from COVID-19 complications <a href="https://t.co/gr5gF4h5rn">https://t.co/gr5gF4h5rn</a> <a href="https://t.co/ro1WDN0Gpg">pic.twitter.com/ro1WDN0Gpg</a></p>— WPTV (@WPTV) <a href="https://twitter.com/WPTV/status/1423722993390432267?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">August 6, 2021</a>