A conservative radio host from Florida who criticised coronavirus vaccination efforts – and called himself “Mr Anti-Vax” – before contracting Covid-19 himself has died, his station said on Saturday.
A statement said: “It’s with great sadness that WNDB and Southern Stone Communications announce the passing of Marc Bernier, who informed and entertained listeners on WNDB for over 30 years. We kindly ask that privacy is given to Marc’s family during this time of grief.”
When Bernier was hospitalised with Covid-19, three weeks ago, WNDB operations manager Mark McKinney told local media: “If you’ve listened to his show, you’ve heard him talk about how anti-vaccine he is on the air.”
In December, Bernier told one guest: “I’m not taking it … Are you kidding me? Mr Anti-Vax? Jeepers.”
The Volusia county sheriff, Mike Chitwood, said the station told him Bernier, 65, died on Saturday night.
“I’m numb,” Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “To me, this is a death in the family.”
As the contagious Delta variant spreads, states led by Republicans resistant to public health mandates, Florida among them, are struggling with a surge of hospitalisations and deaths.
The overwhelming majority of hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 in the US are among unvaccinated people.
According to Johns Hopkins University, nearly 637,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US.
Among tributes to Bernier, who WNDB said “enjoyed a successful 46-year career as a broadcast journalist”, many said that though his show presented a conservative viewpoint, he was always fair to liberals.
“He gives all sides,” Justin Gates, a listener who became a friend, told the News-Journal. “He’s not going to bully and throw punches or do potshots or do things for ratings. That’s why he’s so popular.”