The virus has been spread to multiple members of his media company, who began testing positive a week or so after Pool hosted a well-attended indoor event at a bar and grill in nearby Charles Town, West Virginia. During the combination comedy, musical, and Q&A show, parts of which were shown in a paywall-protected video, Pool’s producer gave a shout-out to people who’d refused to get vaccinated, encouraging them to hold fast. The audience cheered her.
Pool, 35, who has not been vaccinated, is well on the road to recovery. When his condition worsened over the weekend, he received a “kitchen sink” of medications, as Pool put it, including ivermectin, an unproven treatment that experts have warned against using. He did so after speaking to Joe Rogan, who fought off his own case of COVID-19 with a battery of treatments the podcaster similarly described as the “kitchen sink.” Rogan subsequently offered to pay Pool’s medical bills, Pool claimed in his Wednesday video.
Contracting a potentially deadly, life-altering illness did little to change his strongly held animus towards vaccine mandates, as Pool said in the video and also told The Daily Beast via email. But it did put a stop to his production of YouTube videos for a week—a rarity for Pool, who rarely if ever took a day off for two years between 2019 and the end of 2020.
His fans took notice. Since his three channels went dark on Oct. 28, there have been multiple threads posted in the Tim Pool subreddit about his health. One poster in another forum asked if he was dead, and 4chan trolls mocked up a fake Vice.com article reporting his demise. The sole information Pool provided came in the form of brief notes posted to his YouTube channel’s “community” tab: “Feeling a little under the weather,” he wrote on Thursday.
Initially, Pool downplayed his symptoms, saying it was “mostly just a headache,” and “doesn’t seem serious.” A guest scheduled to appear on co-host Ian Crossland’s separate YouTube channel also announced a cancellation on Monday.
On Wednesday morning, Pool broke his silence and unpacked the grueling ordeal. On Oct. 27 and prior to the airing of that night’s live broadcast, an unnamed employee of his tested positive after taking a home test. They informed the two guests scheduled to appear on that evening’s live broadcast—Libby Emmons, the editor in chief of the right-wing Canadian site The Post Millennial and Seamus Coughlin, a YouTuber and cartoonist—of the result but decided to proceed with the show anyway. (Coughlin did not respond to a request for comment sent via Twitter direct message. Emmons replied via email: “I’m vaccinated. I trust the science.”) The following Thursday morning, Pool woke up “feverish and drenched in sweat,” plus a headache, he said. It was “the worst experience” with an illness of this sort he’s ever had. By Thursday evening he “felt like death.”
His fever spiked over the course of the night, and significant body aches manifested on Friday. Four other unnamed employees and friends also were feeling very ill, though, according to Pool, the tests they’d procured came up negative. (Some unknown percentage did eventually test positive.) With his symptoms quickly escalating, Pool contacted an urgent care clinic, asking for advice. “It was a terrible experience,” he said of the facility.
“The issue of ivermectin did come up,” in his conversation with the clinic, Pool said. They told him the FDA hadn’t approved it to treat COVID-19 and doctors would not prescribe it. The clinic advised Pool to come in for further testing and then rest while the virus ran its course.
His symptoms did not abate, and Pool feared he’d have to go to the emergency room. So he sought out the counsel of some friends, including Joe Rogan. Rogan encouraged him not to “ignore it” and “find a better doctor,” Pool said. (Rogan’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication. Pool also stressed in the video he wasn’t seeking out medical advice from Rogan, but rather to hear from someone who’d recovered.) On Friday afternoon, Pool says he tested positive for COVID-19.
The unnamed private medical practice Pool contacted after speaking with Rogan prescribed a slew of treatments, including ivermectin, azithromycin, and monoclonal antibodies. Initially, Pool held off taking ivermectin and azithromycin, but monoclonal antibodies “seemed legit,” he felt, given their effectiveness in treating former President Donald Trump. By Saturday, “I got it really, really bad,” he said. Delirious and hallucinating and after not eating for days, “I was struggling to breathe.” Late Saturday night, the symptoms finally began to recede.
His doctors still insisted he undergo a course of azithromycin and ivermectin. Pool pushed back, partly because he was feeling better, and partly because, “The media’s going to start claiming I was taking horse dewormer,” he said.
In the end, he chose to follow their recommendations. Though it was not the medication he took, the compound already contained a stash of ivermectin, he said in the video. Pool’s producer and show booker, Lydia Smith, recently suggested the same on Twitter. (Smith did not respond to a request for comment sent via Instagram direct message.)
When he next spoke to Rogan, the podcaster offered to pay for the expensive treatments. “Joe, I have no words for the gratitude I feel,” said Pool. In a September 2020 conversation, Pool told coworkers he had earned upwards of $600,000 the previous month. The treatments cost approximately $3,650 in total, Pool said in his email. He declined to say whether he’d accepted Rogan’s gift. (Two days after this article was first published, Pool confirmed on Twitter that Rogan “covered most of the cost.”)
Unpacking the entirety of this story on YouTube was risky, though, according to Pool. With varying degrees of success, the platform has attempted since the pandemic began to tamp down on the misinformation being spread about COVID-19 and cranks peddling snake-oil cures. “YouTube could ban me,” Pool swore, for talking about taking ivermectin at all. “It’s absolutely insane.”
Those worries about being de-platformed haven’t dissuaded him from delving into the subject. For nearly a year and for an audience reaching 40 million viewers each month, Pool has devoted untold hours hammering away at the idea that any attempt to mandate vaccinations—by government and private businesses alike—represent a direct attack on civil liberties and personal freedom. In his inimitable style, Pool has always noted that vaccines are a marvel of medical progress, and that people should never actually listen to him or any other YouTuber when it comes to their health. But lockdowns or requiring proof of vaccination for entry into public spaces like bars, restaurants, and stadiums, are totalitarian acts, some even equivalent to the oppression found in George Orwell’s novel 1984. It will eventually lead to authoritarian rule and the imposition of “social credit scores,” followed by societal and economic collapse, Pool has insisted.
Longshot Billiards, a bar and grill not far from Pool’s Maryland compound, hosted the Oct. 23 shindig, which featured comedians Ryan Long and Danny Polishchuk. The first 200 tickets were doled out free of charge to people who subscribed to his website. They were quickly snatched up, Pool said on YouTube, with at least one attendee claiming to have trekked all the way from Chicago.
A paywall-protected video including highlights from the performances was posted to Pool’s website last week and reviewed by The Daily Beast. At the door, a security guard ran a metal detector over those waiting to get in, the video showed, and none of the individuals appear to be masked, including the bartenders and waitstaff.
Reached by phone, the events coordinator for Longshots Billiards confirmed that the venue does not check vaccination status prior to entry. They stressed that there are signs posted recommending mask-wearing, but it is not a hard-and-fast policy. While West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has encouraged residents to get vaccinated and gently recommended that events be moved outdoors where possible, the state lifted all restrictions on indoor activity in June. The state currently boasts one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country—under 50 percent as of publication.
The same goes for Pool, a “reactionary social media performer,” as the Southern Policy Law Center described him. In a paywall-protected video from June, Pool said to guest Steve Bannon, “I didn’t get vaccinated.” He hasn’t changed his mind since then, either, after receiving “additional advice about my risk factors,” from his doctors, Pool told The Daily Beast.
Neither has Smith, Pool’s producer, she tweeted after her co-workers began getting sick last week. It is unclear how many total employees may be vaccinated, but in his Wednesday video Pool said some definitely have not been jabbed. (He also claimed at least one individual in his circle tested positive despite being vaccinated.)
To kick off the evening, the crowd chanted “Let’s go Brandon,” a meme that has taken hold on the right. The video posted on Timcast.com has been edited, but some of the jokes told included Polishchuk musing about the struggles of divorced dads and unwarranted Amber alerts, and the popularity—or lack thereof, from his point of view—of the WNBA.
Long took the stage next and riffed on the prospect of having his girlfriend’s cat euthanized while she was out of town. “How much mascara till this cat looks like a whore,” Long jokingly said was how he understood animal testing. “We made Whiskers look fuckable.”
Afterwards, Pool et al fielded questions. One attendee specifically asked Smith what gave her hope for the future. People who decline to get vaccinated, she replied. “That is incredible,” Smith continued, citing a Reddit thread about people who’d claimed to have lost jobs by doing so. “If more than one person is refusing,” said Smith, “that means you’re not alone.” The audience seemingly was on her side. “You guys,” she said pointing at the crowd, “now all know that you’re not alone, which I think is amazing.”
In his emailed responses to The Daily Beast, Pool said he agreed with Smith.
But Pool doesn’t believe the event had anything to do with him and his employees catching COVID-19. The first employee to get sick did not attend, he claimed, and the event was not packed “shoulder to shoulder” and was in “a decently ventilated place,” he added in the Wednesday morning video. Pool’s company had “contract traced and sourced” the first case of COVID-19 within the group to an editorial employee who didn’t go to Longshots, making it “unrelated,” to the outbreak, he asserted. “The event was cleared.” As such, Pool doesn’t think it was necessary to directly contact his fans who showed up to Longshots and may have been in close contact with someone who eventually got sick, at least beyond today’s announcement.
It took until the weekend for Pool or someone who works for him to tip off the venue about the positive COVID-19 test results, according to the bar-and-grill’s events coordinator. When repeatedly pressed by The Daily Beast if he or anyone in his employ had told Longshots about coming down with COVID-19, Pool again pointed to their in-house contract tracing procedure, “which involves reaching out to people and talking to them,” he said.
“THIS CLEARED THE EVENT,” Pool reiterated. “You’re such an evil person.” Ultimately, he never said whether he’d contacted the bar.
The experience, while awful, altered Pool’s views on COVID-19 only so much. He doesn’t plan to check vaccination status or ask for a negative test at any events he might host moving forward, Pool told The Daily Beast.
Overall, “It makes me feel like I was right the whole time” about the ineffectiveness of lockdowns and mandated vaccinations, he declared in the Wednesday video. “I look forward to… the media lying about me and my prescriptions and my medications.”