A Florida man who previously questioned the effectiveness of wearing masks has reversed course after being hospitalized with COVID-19.
On Monday, Chuck Stacey released an emotional video on social media in which he revealed he was having trouble breathing and appeared to be hooked up to an oxygen tank.
“I believed this was just a flu, that it was all going to go away, that it was political,” the 50-year-old said in the clip shared on Twitter by his friend Daniel Uhlfelder and viewable below. “I didn’t think a mask would help.”
“You don’t want to end up like me,” he added. “I’m having trouble breathing. I may have to be intubated if I get any worse. … It’s so hard to breathe.”
In a second video posted Monday to Twitter, Stacey said his wife had also tested positive for COVID-19 and hinted he’d received death threats since going public about his diagnosis.
“I listened to the wrong people say the wrong things,” he said. “I was wrong. Can’t be more wrong … but to wish me death? To say I don’t deserve to be treated? What is wrong with you people?”
By Wednesday afternoon, the two videos had collectively been viewed more than 1 million times.
Last year, Stacey reportedly lambasted a local bakery on social media after its owner began requiring staff to wear face masks.
“I have to say I have had it with the masks that the employees are being forced to wear,” he apparently wrote in a since-deleted post on the Donut Hole’s Facebook page. “It’s just another example of the continued over reaction to this situation … Please stop so when we come to eat we can enjoy our meal without feeling sorry for the employees.”
His latest remarks, however, came just two days before Florida broke a single-day record for coronavirus cases, with a reported 17,783 people testing positive. To date, more than 1.4 million Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year. Florida remains one of only 12 states without a mask mandate in place.
As the week wore on, Stacey’s mood appeared to become more hopeful. On Tuesday, he posted a followup video in which he vowed to use his newfound platform to become a “voice for common sense [and] decency” moving forward.
“This is an opportunity for us to unite together,” he said.
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