Fact Check

Did Anti-Vaccine Radio Host Dick Farrel Die of COVID-19?

The right-wing radio host had repeatedly expressed skepticism about the virus, and opposition to vaccines, before his death in August 2021.

Published Aug 9, 2021

Nurse Susan McCarthy gives front line workers their first shot in the two shot vaccination process at Backus Hospital where 211 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine were delivered and being given to 30 hospital workers on the first day of vaccinations in Norwich, Connecticut on December 15, 2020. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images/Stock photo)
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Dick Farrel, a radio host who fervently opposed COVID-19 vaccines and expressed skepticism about the virus, died of complications from COVID-19 in August 2021.

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In August 2021, multiple news outlets reported that the right-wing radio host and COVID-19 skeptic Dick Farrel had himself died of complications relating to COVID-19. For example, on Aug. 7, the Daily Beast published an article with the headline "Anti-Vax Radio Host Who Called Fauci a ‘Power Tripping Lying Freak’ Dies of COVID." That story stated that:

An anti-vaccine right-wing radio host in West Palm Beach, Florida died Wednesday from COVID-19 complications.

Dick Farrel, 65, used his local talk show and social media to rail against Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he called a “power tripping lying freak,” and say that no one should get the coronavirus vaccine. When COVID-19 sent him to the hospital for three weeks, though, he changed his tune, urging friends to get vaccinated, friends told local station WPTV.

Farrel, whose legal name was Farrel Austin Levitt, did indeed die on Aug. 4, 2021, according to an obituary posted on the website of Beth Israel Memorial Chapel in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was 65 years old.

On one of his Facebook accounts, the former WDBF and WFLN talk radio host did repeatedly articulate skepticism about the COVID-19 pandemic, including referring to it as a "scam demic" and "plannedemic," and fervently opposed face masks and vaccines, which he once described as "bogus bull shid."

It is also true that Farrel died of complications from COVID-19. On Facebook, his partner, Kit Farley, wrote:

He fought like a tiger. Please don't put off getting attention for this illness. Yes, for some it has minimal effects, but [for] others it is deadly. We will always love Dick Farrel, always appreciate his spirit and miss him greatly.

Farrel and Farley's friend Amy Leigh Hair paid tribute to Farrel, who occasionally stood in as a host on right-wing TV network Newsmax, saying he had changed his mind about COVID-19 vaccination shortly before his death, and expressed regret that he had failed to get vaccinated. She wrote:

Covid Took One Of My Best Friends! RIP Dick Farrel. He is the reason I took the shot! He texted me and told me to "Get it!" He told me that this virus is no joke and he said: "I wish I had gotten it!"

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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