An Ohio Army veteran died of the coronavirus just two months after he publicly condemned the use of face masks on social media.
According to his obituary, Richard Rose III, of Port Clinton, died at home on July 4 of complications related to the coronavirus. He was 37.
The veteran, who served in the U.S. Army for nine years with two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was adamant about not wearing a face mask amid the pandemic, calling the precaution just part of the “hype” in an April 28 Facebook post.
“Let me make this clear. I’m not buying a f—king mask,” Rose wrote. “I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.”
The controversial post garnered over 5,000 reactions, more than 800 comments, and has since been shared by nearly 20,000 people.
In the comments, many people criticized Rose’s decision to not wear a mask, some mocking the veteran even after hearing about his death.
“Rick is getting slaughtered online right now for his decision that he made not to wear a mask and that’s not right,” Nick Conley, a friend of Rose’s, told local station WOIO. “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.”
Conley said he was “blown away” by Rose’s death, sharing that he never thought the virus would kill someone of Rose’s age.
“You hear about this virus and you don’t expect it to affect people, younger people like ourselves,” he explained.
According to WOIO, Rose tested positive for COVID-19 on July 1 and died three days later.
His family told the outlet that he had no pre-existing health conditions.
“It’s horrible that we lost Rick but the even more tragic part of that is who else became infected because of the actions that he chose,” Conley added.
He hopes that Rose’s decision not to wear a mask will act as a warning to others during this time.
Conley shared, “I know a lot of people that haven’t met someone that they know of that has been diagnosed with the virus and I wanted people to see it was real and my hope is that people will see that this does happen and people will be more cautious.”
He probably would’ve made it a LOT further had he bought into “that damn hype.” Wear your masks. Wash your hands.