Tony Green believed the conspiracy theories spreading worldwide about the coronavirus pandemic but then two of his family members died after he hosted a gathering where many of his relatives contracted the virus.
Mr Green, 43, thought it was just the flu, in a Washington Post article, Mr Green detailed how he went from denying Covid, to contracting it and then spreading it.
Disillusioned by the mainstream media in 2016, he stepped away from the news, forming his own opinions instead, he used to call the global Covid-19 crisis a “scamdemic”.
The article was not the first time Mr Green had spoken publicly about his previous Covid conspiracies.
In June, he contributed a guest article for the Dallas Voice. He explained as a gay conservative he juggled his sexuality with his values, he voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and went “deep into the conspiracy trap over COVID-19” this year.
“I believed the virus to be a hoax. I believed the mainstream media and the Democrats were using it to create panic, crash the economy and destroy Trump’s chances at re-election,” Mr Green wrote.
Mr Green, his partner and their parents met for a weekend after months of not seeing each other.
On the Sunday, he woke up feeling a “little iffy”, he told his loved ones he didn’t feel okay, but it was probably just exhaustion, he told The Washington Post.
Hours later, Mr Green’s partner started to feel ill, then his parents, then his father-in-law, Rafael Ceja.
He dismissed his illness, downplaying his symptoms, though he would wake up sweating, suffering from constant headaches for a week, before getting better and then worse.
“I was thinking: ‘Okay. That’s it. Pretty bad, but not so terrible. I beat it. I managed it. Nothing worth shutting down the entire world over’,” Mr Green recalled to The Washington Post.
Heartbreak as father-in-law dies
Eventually, the 43-year-old started getting his energy back, but then, one day, he couldn’t breathe and blacked out.
He woke in the hospital, the doctors told him Covid-19 attacked his nervous system, they had prevented him from having a stroke and spent three days in hospital.
Mr Ceja, who Mr Green says was like his best friend, ended up in hospital the same day he was admitted. Mr Ceja’s mother ended up in the hospital room next to her son, she died after a few weeks.
The father-in law looked to be getting better during his stay in hospital.
Hours after laughing with him on the phone, Mr Green got a hysterical phone call from his mother in-law. One of Mr Ceja’s lungs had collapsed, the other was filling with fluid.
He was on a ventilator for weeks at just 52 years old, Mr Green was not one of the 10 guests at his funeral.
Covid denier overwhelmed with grief and guilt
Mr Green now wonders how many would have gotten sick if he didn’t host the weekend get-together.
He admits to breaking down at times, unsure if he is glad to be alive and his thoughts on Covid have drastically changed.
“The grief comes in waves, but that guilt just sits,” he told The Washington Post.
Mr Green spoke with CNN, likening the guilt he felt to that of a drunk driver.
“The feeling that I have is kind of like what, I would say, a drunk driver would have if they killed their family," Mr Green said.
"It was unintentional. This was my home. This is where it happened. So, you know there is a sense of responsibility.”
Mr Green told CNN he sees himself as an example of what can happen when mingling with small groups of people.
He urged people to be cautious with the upcoming holidays and to take precautions, saying people have a reason to be afraid of Covid-19.
There are more than 38 million coronavirus infections worldwide, the US accounting for more than any other country with more than seven million cases and 216,000 deaths.
On Thursday, CNN reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director said small household gatherings are becoming an “increasing threat”, as cases continue to surge in the US.
Speaking to US governor’s in audio obtained by CNN, Director Dr. Robert Redfield stressed it was important to stress vigilance in the lead up to Thanksgiving.
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