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Conservative radio host, former vaccine skeptic ill with Covid-19

Phil Valentine, who was unvaccinated, is urging fans to "GO GET VACCINATED," his family said.
Image: Phil Valentine records a new podcast with his son, Campbell, in their cabin in Brentwood, Tenn. on March 7, 2019.
Phil Valentine records a new podcast with his son, Campbell, in their cabin in Brentwood, Tenn. on March 7, 2019.Shelley Mays / The Tennessean

A conservative radio host in Tennessee who expressed skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines and was unvaccinated is hospitalized in critical care with the disease, his station announced Friday.

Phil Valentine, who hosts a show bearing his name on WWTN-FM in Nashville, contracted the coronavirus a little more than a week ago and is battling pneumonia, his family said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“He is in the hospital in the critical care unit breathing with assistance but is NOT on a ventilator,” the family said. “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an “anti-vaxer” he regrets not being more vehemently “Pro-Vaccine”, and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.

"Phil & his family would like for all of you to know that he loves ya’ll and appreciates your concern, thoughts & prayers more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for his recovery and PLEASE GO GET VACCINATED!”

Earlier this week, his brother, Mark Valentine, posted on Facebook: “Many of you know that my brother Phil is in the hospital with Covid related pneumonia. He is fighting for his life, which has persuaded me to go get vaccinated when I was previously not inclined to do so.

“I haven’t posted anything pro or con relating to the vaccine because I felt like everyone should decide for themselves whether or not to get it. Having seen this up close and personal I’d encourage ALL of you to put politics and other concerns aside and get it. When the technician came out and asked … ‘do you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine’, I said hell yeah but I’m gonna get it anyway.”

After Phil Valentine tested positive for Covid-19 but before his hospitalization, he told listeners to consider, “If I get this COVID thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?” If so, he advised his listeners to get inoculated. He said he made the decision not to get vaccinated because he thought the disease wouldn’t kill him.

Tennessee continues to have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country even as cases are rising largely from the highly contagious delta variant. As of Thursday, 12,666 people have died from coronavirus.