Ted Nugent has walked back his comment that COVID-19 is "not a real pandemic" — days after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
The 72-year-old pro-gun activist revealed his COVID-19 diagnosis in a video on Monday (April 19), saying that he had never felt so sick in his entire life. He also said many people had warned him against announcing his diagnosis.
The outspoken conservative rocker, a staunch supporter of former U.S. president Donald Trump, previously referred to the virus as a "leftist scam to destroy" America's 45th president. "It's not a real pandemic and that's not a real vaccine, I'm sorry," he argued in a video posted on Christmas.
Nugent acknowledged his apparent change of mind while being interviewed by Florida's ABC7 earlier this week.
"There's been worse conditions and health problems in the past in this country and around the world where nobody ever shut down mom-and-pop diners and shut down entire economic societies in the United States of America," Ted said. "That's what I believe, and I will continue to believe that that's a hoax. But the pandemic is real, and the people that are sick are real."
In the past, Nugent had repeated a narrative pushed by conservative media and disputed by health experts that suggests the official death count from the coronavirus is inflated. He had also mocked people who wear face masks, despite that both the CDC and World Health Organization have urged their universal use.
On Tuesday (April 20), Nugent took to Facebook Live to call out the mainstream media for allegedly distorting his previous comments about the virus.
"The lies I've seen that I've been doing these public appearances knowing I had the COVID-19. False," Ted said. "Saying that I claimed COVID-19 was a hoax. False. I've always said… We have actually footage of me saying, if not hundreds, thousands of times… Of course there's a Chinese virus. Hello? Who thinks that I claimed there's no Chinese… There's a Chinese virus. They call it COVID-19. I'm well aware of that."
Nugent also addressed the fact that he previously blasted lockdowns on social media, publicly wondering why we "werent we shut down for COVID-1 through -18." (The number refers to 2019 — the year in which the disease was discovered. There was no COVID 1-18.)
"You know, comfortably numb is actually uncomfortably dumb, because when I said, 'What about COVID-1 through -18?', they missed the whole point," Ted insisted in Tuesday's Facebook Live stream. "I know there was not a COVID-1 through -18, but there were past COVIDs prior to COVID-19 that nobody ever shut down any mom-and-pop businesses, never encouraged the economic destruction of the entrepreneur engine that drives America. So I was merely commenting that prior to COVID-19, nobody ever shut down anything — not for Ebola [virus], not for the Spanish Flu, not for AIDS, not for the Black Plague. But they're doing it for COVID-19. So I was referencing those past epidemics-slash-pandemics as maybe a generalization of COVID-1 through -18."
He added: "You stupid motherfuckers. The left is such a great source of comedy. Keep it up. Richard Pryor isn't around anymore. We can't rely on him for the ultimate comedy, so we rely on the comfortably numb nuts, uncomfortably dumb nuts."
When Nugent first revealed his COVID-19 diagnosis, he described having a "stuffed up head," body aches and that he "literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days." "I thought I was dying," he said. He also used racist language to refer to the virus, calling it the "Chinese shit," and reiterated his previous stance that he wouldn't be getting the vaccine because he claimed — falsely — that "nobody knows what's in it."