Landon Spradlin of Gretna – a small town halfway between Lynchburg and Danville – began to feel sick in New Orleans, where he went to preach to the crowd gathered for Mardi Gras celebrations, according to the BBC.
A month later, Spradlin – who was also a seasoned musician inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 – died.
“His mission was to go to pubs, clubs and bars, play the blues and connect with musicians and just tell them that Jesus loved them,” said Spradlin’s daughter Jesse Spradlin, 28 years old, at the BBC.
“Mardi Gras is like Times Square in New York on New Years Eve. It’s a sea of people drinking and partying. He was strong and laughing and in his element. “
Spradlin started feeling bad in New Orleans, but initially tested negative for COVID-19.
As he battled symptoms, he shared a controversial meme on March 13, comparing deaths from coronavirus to swine flu, Patch reported. The meme is no longer visible on his Facebook page.
The meme decried public reaction to the pandemic as “mass hysteria” and suggested that the media was using the epidemic to hurt President Trump.
In the comments, the pastor said he thought the coronavirus “is a real problem, but I think the media is spreading fear and doing more harm than good.”
“It will come and it will do,” he wrote, according to Patch.
Another of Spradlin’s girls said the family group never discussed the virus while playing in historic Jackson Square – even though the deadly virus had already started spreading in the United States.
“I don’t even remember we talked about the virus,” Naomi Spradlin, 26, told the BBC. “With what has happened, we continue to look back, and we haven’t talked about it once. “
But Spradlin’s son Landon Isaac, 32, said at the point of sale that his father “didn’t think it was a hoax, he knew it was a real virus.”
“But he posted this post because he was frustrated that the media was spreading fear as the primary means of communication,” he said.
In mid-March, on the 900-mile route to Virginia, Spradlin’s health deteriorated rapidly.
“I spoke to him five minutes before he collapsed in North Carolina,” Isaac told the BBC. “I could tell that his breathing was getting bad. And I just said that you have to go home. But he didn’t. “
The pastor was taken to a hospital in North Carolina, where doctors discovered he had pneumonia in both lungs – and this time he tested positive for COVID-19, the report said.
He died after eight days of intensive care.
“We just never thought our father would die because of it,” said Jesse Spradlin. “But he was not the type to live in fear and let him steal the joy of life he had. “