An Ohio man reportedly died of COVID-19 after actively voicing on his social media accounts that he would not be buying a mask and would not be “buying into the hype” of the pandemic.
“Rick was like a lot of my friends and didn’t feel the need to wear a mask because he was young and healthy. Please know that this virus is real. Just because you don’t personally know someone effected yet doesn’t mean it’s not real,” said friend Nick Conley in a tribute post on Facebook.
Conley told local news outlets that Rick had been vocal in the past about being anti-mask, which has since been brought up by some critics commenting on Conley’s post.
“Rick is getting slaughtered online right now for his decision that he made not to wear a mask and that’s not right,” Conley said. “We should still be compassionate whether we agree with someone’s beliefs or not. Someone has passed away and we should have some compassion towards that.”
Posts from Rose’s Facebook page indicate that he believed the worsening pandemic to be “hype.” His posts also indicate that Rose visited public places before he fell ill.
Then, on July 1, Rose wrote on Facebook that he was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19."I've been very sick the past few days," he wrote.
"This morning I finally got swabbed. I should know soon what the results are. I just want to feel good again!"
Just one hour later, Rose revealed in a post that he'd officially tested positive for COVID-19.
"Well. I'm officially under quarantine for the next 14 days," he wrote. "I just tested positive for COVID-19. Sucks because I had just started a new job!"
The day following his announcement that he had contracted the novel coronavirus, Rose shared that he was having difficulty breathing, writing in a Facebook post, “This covid s*** sucks! I’m so out of breath just sitting here.”
Family said Rose had no underlying health conditions.
“We were blown away, you know? You hear about this virus and you don’t expect it to affect people, younger people like ourselves,” said Conley, who met Rose due to their mutual love of video games.
Last month, Ohio officials reported a troubling spike in COVID-19 cases among younger people. Data showed 60% of the new COVID-19 cases in the state are from those between the ages of 20 and 49.
“We don’t want people to think that, you know, just because they’re young and healthy, that they’re invincible,” Kevin Brennan, communications officer for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health told local news media.
“The biggest thing I’d like to see is for people to learn from his mistake, but also for people to put politics aside and come together to help defeat this problem,” Conley said.