Joining the ranks of vaccine skeptics who later changed their tune after they became seriously ill with COVID: a former Newsmax anchor and conservative radio host in Florida who didn't make it to tell his tale publicly in person. Per WPTV and NBC News, Dick Farrel died Wednesday of COVID-related complications. He was 65. Farrel, whose real name was Farrel Austin Levitt, regularly railed against the COVID vaccines on social media, including in one post from early last month. "Vaccine Bogus Bull Shid!" he wrote. He also took issue with the nation's most well-known infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling Fauci a "power tripping lying freak" in a July 7 Facebook post, and often promoted hydroxychloroquine, whose use to treat COVID has since been called "misguided."
However, after he contracted COVID, Farrel changed his mind on the vaccine, friends tell WPTV. "He is the reason I took the shot!" close pal Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook. "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!' Hair tells WPTV that she, like Farrel, originally "trusted my immune system" over the vaccine, but she notes that now "I'm glad I got vaccinated." Farrel, who was born in Queens, NY, enjoyed a long career in radio, including working for several radio stations in Florida. Deadline notes he served as a host for right-wing broadcaster Newsmax after his job at radio station WFLN was sold in 2016. "He was known as the other Rush Limbaugh," his life partner, Kit Farley, wrote on Facebook. "With a heavy heart, I can only say this was so unexpected. He will be missed." (Read more anti-vaccination stories.)