A South Carolina GOP leader who called face masks an 'illusion' has died from COVID-19

louisiana covid hospital
Clinicians work on intubating a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 10, 2021. Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • The leader of a South Carolina GOP group died from COVID-19 after making fun of masks.

  • Pressley Stutts also cheered on unvaccinated doctors and criticized vaccine mandates.

  • Then after landing in the ICU for treatment, Stutts called the coronavirus "hell on earth."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The GOP leader of a South Carolina county died from COVID-19 after pushing false statements about the disease and downplaying restrictions like mask-wearing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Pressley Stutts, chair of the Greenville Tea Party, had been a vocal skeptic of coronavirus-related guidance and safety ordinances released by national health agencies. Last year, he called face masks an "illusion" in a Facebook post and falsely claimed the people in the US "have a 99.999% of not dying from the Wuhan virus."

He also cheered on unvaccinated doctors and nurses and criticized vaccination mandates. "Mandates and coercions DO NOT WORK especially when they come to us from a government that has repeatedly lied to the American People time and time again," he wrote.

Pressley - from an ICU hospital bed - continued to downplay the coronavirus. After being admitted into the hospital in early August, he wrote in a Facebook post that "COVID is nothing to fool with and in as much as possible, it is up to you to take the best precautions for you and your family to avoid getting it."

About two weeks later, Pressley called the virus "hell on earth" in another post.

"When you have to take every single ounce just to get your next breath, you know you are in the battle for your life!" he wrote in that Facebook post. "I IMPLORE YOU....PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD MOVES MIGHTILY IN MY BODY. ISOLATED. DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN ENDURE WITHOUT YOUR PRAYERS. SERIOUSLY!"

Pressley's final Facebook post, published on August 13 just days before his death, said he was going on a ventilator. He also promised to "wake up from this short rest and be back in the game soon."

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