An unvaccinated Alabama councilor who opposed mask mandates and called vaccines a personal choice is battling COVID-19 pneumonia in hospital.
Decatur Councilman Hunter Pepper, 19, was hospitalized Sept. 16 after complications from the virus.
The politician who vehemently opposed mask mandates – she called them the “most government overreach in my 19 years on this earth -” said yesterday “it feels terrible not being able to breathe.”
The teen who previously said he would “fight to the end” against mandatory face coverings is now fighting to breathe.
Pepper shared his diagnosis on Facebook, where he said he was being treated at Decatur Morgan Hospital for respiratory problems.
“Well, it finally happened to me,” he said. “…Everything in me wants to tell myself it’s something else, but no matter how I look, it’s ‘Covid this, Covid that’ and it terrified me and my family.
“The media continues to report on Covid-19, explaining ‘death’ every time. That is frankly terrifying to me, but I have faith in the lord. Perhaps this will soon go away and the symptoms of this disease will not progress as I can tell you, it feels terrible not being able to breathe.’
Councilor Hunter Pepper, who has COVID-19, says ‘it feels terrible not being able to breathe’
Pepper was elected to the city council last year and made quick work of condemning mask mandates.
“I believe it should be your own choice to wear seat belts,” Pepper said during an April 9 city council vote to withdraw the face covering requirement in the region.
“It comes back to masks, I think wearing a mask should be my choice.”
19-year-old who opposed mandatory mask mandates says he now has COVID pneumonia
Pepper, the youngest elected to the city council, is also against mandatory vaccines.
He said in a previous Facebook post that vaccinations should be optional.
“I will say that if you choose to get vaccinated, that is your choice,” he said in a July 24 post. “I will NEVER blame anyone for something we can’t stop.
“….I will NEVER force anything on you or tell you that you are (sic) not a big member of society (sort of a live that Governor Ivey did yesterday) because I disagree.”
Pepper compared mandatory masks to seat belt laws and said he thinks both should be optional
In Alabama, where 41 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated, 72 people have died from the virus in the past day.
Data from John Hopkins University shows that 12,856 Albanians have succumbed to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
A recent increase in the number of cases has put pressure on hospitals and led to a shortage of available beds in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Ray DeMonia, 73, from Cullman, Alabama
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins, Alabama’s ICU beds had a capacity of 101 percent last week, with COVID-19 patients accounting for half of the available beds.
Earlier this month, an Alabama man died of heart failure after being turned away from 43 hospitals in three Southern states that were overrun with COVID patients.
Ray DeMonia, 73, was eventually admitted to a hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, 200 miles from his home in Cullman, Alabama, but was too ill to save and died on Sept. 1.
Councilor Pepper said he was optimistic he would be back to work on Monday.
“If I’m healthy enough, I’ll attend the meeting by phone, as I’ll dial into the meeting and vote by phone again, if I’m feeling well enough,” he said, thanking followers for their “thoughts and prayers.” ‘
Data shows COVID-19 patients occupy half of available intensive care beds in Alabama
Some fellow councilors called on Pepper to resign earlier this year after learning of a 2018 social media post where he joked about running over Black Lives Matter protesters.
Pepper, who was 16 at the time, ran an article about people protesting the police shooting of an armed black man in Birmingham, who was mistaken for a gunman in a previous shooting at a shopping centre.
Pepper commented, “Look, I have to go shopping there next week and we’re going to play a game called red rover red rover you idiots get run over!”
He later apologized for the post, calling it “very ignorant.”