Dickinson City Council member H. Scott Apley died on Wednesday, five days after suggesting on Facebook that COVID-19 vaccines don't work

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H Scott Apley
H. Scott Apley
| Credit: facebook

A Texas councilman known for downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic and disparaging the efficacy of vaccines died of the virus on Wednesday.

H. Scott Apley, a Dickinson City Council member in Galveston County, Texas, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday for "pneumonia-like symptoms," a GoFundMe campaign created to help with his medical expenses said.

Apley, 45, then tested positive for COVID-19, and was sedated and placed on a ventilator. His wife, Melissa Apley, and their infant son also tested positive but have not been hospitalized.

Two days before he was hospitalized, Apley shared a Facebook post suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines don't work. It was just the most recent social media post in what seemed like regular criticism of the pandemic and vaccines.

In April, Apley told a doctor sharing the news that the Pfizer vaccine is "efficacious for at least 6 months" on Twitter that they were "an absolute enemy of a free people."

He had also previously posted to express his desire to participate in a "mask burning" party.

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The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and reduce one's risk of severe illness, and are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for anyone over the age of 12. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99 percent — are in unvaccinated people.

It's also been recommended by the CDC that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public to prevent the virus' spread.

In a statement, the Galveston County Republican Party called Apley's death "a tragedy," ABC 13 reported, but did not mention that he died of COVID-19.

"Our hearts mourn for him and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Melissa and their families," the statement said. "Scott was a hard worker; and deeply committed to the betterment of his community, including his activities with the Republican Party. He was an advocate for liberty, limited government and the highest ideals of American Exceptionalism."

As in many parts of the country, COVID-19 cases have been climbing in Texas, largely due to the new Delta variant. As of Thursday, Galveston County had had 45,499 cases of COVID-19 and more than 400 deaths from the virus. Texas has had more than 3.1 million cases and more than 53,500 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.