ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dick Farrel, a conservative South Florida radio host and Newsmax anchor, died from complications of COVID-19, according to news outlets.
Farrel was known for his outspoken support of former President Donald Trump and, more recently, his vocal opposition to COVID-19 vaccines, WPTV-TV reported.
Among his many inflammatory social media posts, the former radio host called the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a "power tripping lying freak" and once referred to the spread of COVID-19 as a "scam demic."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows there have been at least 614,856 deaths attributed to the virus in the U.S.
However, after Farrel contracted COVID-19, his friends say he had a change of heart.
"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!" Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook, along with a series of photos of Farrel, according to WPTV.
She told the news station, "I was one of one the people like him who didn't trust the vaccine. I trusted my immune system. I just became more afraid of getting COVID-19 than I was of any possible side effects of the vaccine. I'm glad I got vaccinated."
"He was known as the other Rush Limbaugh. With a heavy heart, I can only say this was so unexpected. He will be missed,” Farrel's partner Kit Farley wrote on Facebook, according to WPTV.
Farrel was born Farrel Austin Levitt on Aug. 1, 1956, in New York City, his obituary says, according to NBC News. He graduated from Queens College before going on to pursue a radio career.
After moving to West Palm Beach, he worked for a number of South Florida radio stations from Miami to Arcadia.
Hair told The Washington Post he was a "fun, loving person who was like a walking history book" and enjoyed political conversations.
Newsmax in a statement to the Post said Farrel had been a substitute host for the cable news outlet in the past.
"Dick was a popular radio host in Florida and always a friend of Newsmax. We mourn his passing and hope everyone can learn from his unnecessary death the importance of getting vaccinated," Brian Peterson, a Newsmax spokesperson, wrote in an email.