David Gilbert at Vice:
A QAnon and anti-vaccine podcaster has died from complications due to COVID-19 after contracting the virus at a conspiracy theory conference that turned into a superspreader event, and where fellow attendees baselessly blamed their illness on an anthrax attack.
Doug Kuzma, 61, from Newport News, Virginia, died on January 3 after being hospitalized 10 days earlier. Kuzma broadcasted on the FROG News podcasting network, which stands for “Fully Rely On God.” Kuzma and his FROG fellow hosts pushed an array of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon to COVID denial and election fraud lies.
Kuzma attended the ReAwaken America conference in Dallas on the weekend of Dec. 11, posting a picture of his media pass on his Facebook page. Other images Kuzma posted from the conference show large crowds in confined spaces without any social distancing or masks.
Kelly Ernby was no doubt a good person, a friend to her friends, a companion to her husband, a crime-fighting prosecutor. She presumably had all the decent qualities we usually celebrate after a person dies, when we generally say only the kindest things we can think of.
But she was also a vocal critic of vaccine mandates whose posts on social media risked lives, denied science and confused Americans. She was an activist with a mini-megaphone — an Orange County deputy district attorney, a local Republican Party official and a 2019 GOP candidate for state Assembly — spreading the message of a dangerous populist movement.
So when Ernby died of COVID-19 this week at age 46 (unvaccinated, of course), her death set off an ugly public debate, reflecting all the bitterness, polarization and frustration in American pandemic society. A resident of Huntington Beach, she suddenly became a symbol rather than a person, a blank slate onto which we could all project our harshest gut reactions.