US pastor Landon Spradlin, who panned coronavirus as ‘hysteria,’ dies of the virus

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Landon Spradlin, a Virginia-based pastor who denied the coronavirus outbreak as a “hysteria” meant to target US President Donald Trump, has died of the virus last week, according to his family.

Spradlin, a pastor and musician, made headlines when he decided to go to New Orleans in mid-February for the Mardi Gras festival, died on March 25 after suffering from COVID-19 complications and double pneumonia.

“We just never thought our father would pass away because of this. But he wasn’t the type of person to just live in fear and let it rob him of the joy of the life that he had,” Jesse Spradlin, Spradlin’s daughter, told the BBC.

Spradlin was criticized after sharing a meme on his Facebook account on March 13 in which it compared the swine flu deaths with the coronavirus pandemic. The meme in question also implied that criticism of the Trump administration’s management of the coronavirus pandemic was politically motivated to encourage “mass hysteria” by the media.

The pastor's son, Landon Isaac, told the BBC that his father did indeed believe the virus was real and that it was not a hoax as implied from his past statements and social media posts.

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“But he did put up that post because he was frustrated that the media was propagating fear as the main mode of communication," Isaac told the BBC.

More than 10,000 people have died of coronavirus complications in the United States since the outbreak began in late January, Johns Hopkins University said on Monday.

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