Joe Diffie Widow Refutes Conspiracy Behind Singer’s COVID-19 Death

90’s country star Joe Diffie was one of the first high-profile personalities in America to pass away due to complications from the Coronavirus. After first announcing on March 27th that he’d contracted the disease and was under the care of doctors, two days later, on March 29th, it was announced that the 61-year-old had died. The official cause of death was not announced as the Coronavirus, but “complications due to the Coronavirus.” The disease was thought to exacerbate underlying medical conditions Joe Diffie was already suffering from before contracting the disease, like many COVID-19 victims.

However a widely-circulated rumor that the Oklahoma native actually died of lung Cancer, and the Coronavirus story had been concocted to embellish COVID-19 statistics took root via multiple social media posts that spread the conspiracy theory.

An individual named Tony Phillips posted on Facebook on April 13th, “I have a friend who is a friend of Joe Diffie. They labeled his death as a covid-19 death and it wasn’t! So the family asked why it was listed as the COD and the nurse told them they’ve been labeling as many as they can with the virus because that’s how they’re getting funding. So there ya go! Now we know that the numbers are false because many who have passed didn’t die from the virus, but another cause. That’s how they’re getting the $$$$ and that is the truth.”

The post received over 117,000 shares on Facebook, and similar accounts were circulated in other posts claiming Joe Diffie’s death was part of a Coronavirus conspiracy.

Now Joe Diffie’s widow, Tara Diffie, has addressed these rumors. In a post on Instagram, Tara Diffie told fans, “My husband, Joe Diffie, did NOT HAVE LUNG CANCER. His father passed, same name, November 2018 to stage IV lung cancer. STOP STARTING FAKE NEWS. I’ve seen multiple posts and it’s upsetting to all of us.”

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The death of songwriter John Prine on April 7th also due to the Coronavirus was met with a similar version of misinformation. In the aftermath of his death, many individuals on social media blamed President Trump and the response by the United States government to the disease for Prine’s passing. An article posted in the Chicago Reader titled, “Did John Prine Die for Donal Trumps Sins?” goes on to assert matter of factly in the subheading, “The cruelty, ignorance, and incompetence of the federal pandemic response have cost the life of a beloved singer-songwriter who stood against all those things.”

However the article does not mention that according to John’s wife Fiona Prine, who contracted the disease and became ill before John, there is a chance the couple contracted the disease while they were traveling in Europe, not while in the United States. “We were traveling in Europe last month. Maybe we picked it up there, maybe we didn’t,” Fiona said when she first announced her COVID-19 diagnosis, and that she was completely isolated from John. The Chicago Reader article fails to mention that important fact.

John Prine also had no issue accessing testing. On the same day Fiona tested positive, John’s initial test came back “indeterminate.” John Prine also did not have any issues accessing healthcare, or a ventilator when doctors later did diagnose him as positive, and decided the 73-year-old needed to be intubated. Fiona later praised the medical professionals who cared for John. Prine also had numerous underlying health conditions, including a previous bout with lung Cancer. “He’s definitely in that vulnerable population,” Fiona Prine said initially. “This would not be a good virus for him to get, or anyone.”

Numerous readers lashed out at the Chicago Reader for exploiting John Prine’s death. “I’d like to blame this on Cheeto – he certainly has a lot of blood on his hands, and not just related to the coronavirus – but chances are Prine contracted the disease in Europe. Without any mitigating treatment currently available, he would have needed a miracle to save him,” responded one reader.

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Both instances show how the politicization of the Coronavirus issue has bled the nuance out of the discussion, overlooking important facts, and how exploiting the death of someone due to the disease can be a callous act towards the survivors.

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