A pastor in Idaho, who was skeptical about the efficacy of facemask and called himself a “no-masker” during a service, is in the intensive care unit (ICU) after catching the deadly coronavirus. He used to repeatedly question the veracity of COVID-19 case reporting.
Paul Van Noy, senior pastor at Candlelight Church in Coeur d’Alene, has spent a couple of weeks in the hospital with a COVID-19 infection, according to ministry coordinator Eric Reade.
“Five other church staff were infected with coronavirus, too, but they’ve all recovered,” Reade told CNN.
In a statement shared through Candlelight Church, Van Noy said he will soon move out of the ICU into another room in the hospital and then recover at home.
The pastor said, “At present I feel OK but still need quite a bit of oxygen support — especially if and when I try to get up out of the bed.”
Van Noy’s wife also contracted COVID-19 but was not hospitalized, according to the church.
In March, Candlelight Church was shut down temporarily but reopened for in-person services in early May.
According to Reade, Van Noy’s church does not require parishioners to wear masks, though they’re welcome to.
In July, Van Noy said he does not mind if other people wear masks but he did not “want to be told” he needed to wear a mask. He also said he would not comply if the city officials ordered him to suspend inn-person services.
In the United States, church leaders have been fined or even arrested for holding in-person services during the coronavirus pandemic.
In July, Van Noy took to Facebook to falsely claim that wearing facemasks does not prevent COVID-19 transmission. In fact, he urged his parishioners not to “fear the cause or effect of Covid-19.”
He wrote, “May we keep our heads at a time like this. And, may we defend our freedoms lest they quickly disappear. We will not close down our church, we will not stop singing praises to the Lord, and we will not be required to wear masks or refrain from allowing those who wish to wear one the opportunity.” Studies have shown that wearing a mask, coupled with social distancing and hand washing, is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus.