GOP Leader Who Fought Against Vaccine Dies After Weekslong Battle With Coronavirus

Pressley Stutts, a Republican leader in South Carolina who fought COVID-19 vaccination efforts, died on Thursday of the coronavirus after a weekslong battle, including six days spent on a ventilator, The Greenville News reported.

Stutts, a 64-year-old veteran, frequently shared conspiracy theories about the virus, the vaccines and the 2020 election on Facebook, including in posts made from his ICU bed.

Pressley Stutts was well known as the leader of the Greenville Tea Party.

Pressley Stutts was well known as the leader of the Greenville Tea Party.

Stutts served as an executive committee member of the Greenville County Republican Party and the leader of the Greenville Tea Party. He protested Vice President Kamala Harris when she visited the area in June to promote vaccination and called the effort an “ungodly initiative.” 

Stutts also praised a state effort to strip funding from schools that imposed mask mandates or testing requirements, and was angry about $10 gift card incentives for vaccination, writing to his 5,000 followers: “Do not sell your body nor your soul no matter the asking price.” 

In July, Stutts shared a Facebook post dismissing the delta variant, which was likely the one that ended his life. 

On Aug. 1 ― the day he went into the ICU ― Stutts insisted he had “always contended that COVID was very real” and called it “a deadly bio-weapon perpetrated upon the people of the world by enemies foreign, and perhaps domestic.”

He also posted conspiracy theories about the virus online. Last year, he dismissed masks as an “illusion,” claimed in December that there had been no increase in deaths in 2020, and said, “the American public has been gaslighted by the medical industrial complex.”

A research letter published in April calculated 522,368 excess deaths in 2020, an increase of 22.9% over 2019. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 545,600 to 660,200 excess deaths from Jan. 26, 2020, through Feb. 27, 2021.