Richard “Rick” Rose, who died of Covid-19 at 37: Richard Rose/Facebook
An Ohio man who died of Covid-19 had repeatedly posted on Facebook about his scepticism of the outbreak – and a tweet containing a montage of his posts is now going viral.
Richard Rose, 37, died at home in Port Clinton on 4 July just days after he tested positive for Covid-19. The montage of his posts spreading on social media, which has been viewed 3.5 million times, shows that he tested positive and was quarantined on 1 July, when he was already viewing symptoms.
After telling a friend he had no idea where he contracted the disease, he posted on 2 July that “this covid shit sucks! I’m so out of breath just sitting here”. That is the last post featured from before his death.
However, it is Mr Rose’s earlier posts that have drawn the most attention.
Along with checking in at crowded venues, Mr Rose had posted criticism of the Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd, calling the movement “a joke” for supposedly inciting violence while posting the pro-police slogans #BacktheBlue and #ThinBlueLine.
Mr Rose also mocked Islamic face coverings and shared a meme dismissing the mainstream media and mocking the idea that gender is non-binary while saying “Trump 2020!”
Alongside these, he dismissed the risk of the pandemic, saying “I’m not buying a f***ing mask” and that “I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype”.
“I’ve gotten sick of turning my tv on to political smear ads and shit about COVID,” he wrote in another post. “So yesterday I turned my cable box in. I’ve also started snoozing people on here. It’s time to block out negativity.”
Speaking to local media, Mr Rose’s friend Nick Conley said “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.
“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.”
Facebook and other social media platforms have come in for stinging criticism over their slowness to aggressively tackle coronavirus misinformation, including baseless conspiracy theories that the virus is fake or was deliberately manufactured, unfounded claims that it is caused by 5G infrastructure, and ineffective or dangerous “cures” peddled as alternatives to orthodox medicine.
Ohio, meanwhile, was one of the first US states to impose lockdown measures, with Republican governor Mike DeWine taking action even before the state had reported any cases. Many of the measures have now been lifted; however, the governor is reportedly considering county-by-county control measures as cases start to rise again.