A Florida taxi driver, who believed false claims that coronavirus was a hoax, has lost his wife to Covid-19.
Brian Lee Hitchens and his wife, Erin, had read claims online that the virus was fabricated, linked to 5G or similar to the flu.
The couple didn’t follow health guidance or seek help when they fell ill in early May. Brian recovered but his 46-year-old wife became critically ill and died this month from heart problems linked to the virus.
Brian spoke to the BBC in July as part of an investigation into the human cost of coronavirus misinformation. At the time, his wife was on a ventilator in hospital.
Her husband explained that the couple did not follow health guidance at the start of the pandemic because of the false claims they had seen online.
Brian continued to work as a taxi driver and to collect his wife’s medicine without observing social distancing rules or wearing a mask.
They had also failed to seek help as soon as possible when they fell ill in May and were both subsequently diagnosed with Covid-19.
Brian told BBC News that he “wished [he’d] listened from the beginning” and hoped his wife would forgive him.
“This is a real virus that affects people differently. I can’t change the past. I can only live in today and make better choices for the future,” Brian explained.
“She’s no longer suffering, but in peace. I go through times missing her, but I know she’s in a better place.”
– BBC NEWS