As the Omicron variant keeps surging, we hear of yet another needless death.
A leading QAnon promoter who urged both her followers and strangers she passed on the street not to take the COVID vaccine died Thursday of the coronavirus, making her just the latest vaccine opponent killed by the disease.
Cirsten Weldon had amassed tens of thousands of followers across right-wing social media networks by promoting the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy under the screenname “CirstenW.” She was prominent enough to become a sort of QAnon interpreter for comedian conspiracy theorist Roseanne Barr and started recording videos about QAnon with her.
Weldon focused on attacking vaccines and other efforts to fight COVID-19, saying in one video that Dr. Anthony Fauci “needs to be hung from a rope.” She claimed the vaccine killed people and even recorded herself yelling at people standing in line to receive vaccines.
“The vaccines kill, don’t get it!” Weldon warned the waiting vaccine recipients in an undated video posted to one of her online accounts. “This is how gullible these idiots are. They’re all getting vaccine!”
In late December, however, Weldon started showing symptoms of coronavirus infection. In her last video, posted on Dec. 28, Weldon struggled through her remarks about the coming overthrow of the United States government, coughing and complaining that she was exhausted.
Three days later, Weldon was hospitalized in Camarillo, California. She posted a picture of herself wearing an oxygen mask to Instagram and claimed she had “bacterial pneumonia.” Weldon wrote in a post on the social media network Telegram that she refused to take coronavirus treatment remdesivir, calling it “Dr Fauci’s Resmedervir (sic).”
Weldon’s death from COVID is just the latest instance of a far-right personality who opposed vaccination being killed by the virus. On Jan. 3, radio host Doug Kuzma died while infected with the coronavirus. In August, QAnon promoter Robert David Steele died of the virus shortly after posting a picture of himself in an oxygen mask and vowing to still refuse the vaccine.
You would think that these developments would give vaccine skeptics pause. And maybe it has for some of them. But clearly not for all. As is often the case with people who are determined to stick with a belief whatever the counter-evidence, they have come up with yet another explanation of why these vaccine deniers are dying, and it is a real doozy.
In the face of these deaths, their surviving friends and supporters have started to allege that the dead QAnon figures are being murdered, either because they were refused internet folk remedies like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, or because they were killed by the deep-state to cover up their conspiracy theories. In December, Kuzma and a number of other conspiracy theorists were sickened with COVID-like symptoms after appearing together at a conference. Rather than acknowledge that they had COVID, the far-right influencers suggested they had been targeted by an anthrax attack.
After Weldon’s death, her QAnon allies threatened to pursue violent action against staff at the hospital where she died. Scott McKay, a QAnon personality known as the “Patriot Streetfighter,” said he would publicize the names of doctors and nurses involved in treating Weldon, saying he wanted to “put the fear into these medical professionals” in a Telegram post. McKay proposed the hospital staff be sentenced to death, or be murdered in vigilante violence.
Weldon seems to have really believed her own words and paid a very high price for doing so. I blame her death on all those people, especially at Fox News, who, purely for their own advantage, have cynically expressed doubt and contempt for the vaccines and spread lies about them, while knowing better and even quietly getting vaccinated themselves.
This is all so tragically unnecessary. We will all die of something some day and it will be because of some unavoidable cause. To not do simple things that prevent premature death because of some ideological fixation is something that I find really hard to wrap my head around.
How many leaders of the anti-vax movement need to die before their followers start to realize that they have been sold a highly dangerous bill of goods?