Veteran Who Went Viral for Refusing to Wear Face Mask Dies From COVID-19

An Ohio veteran who went viral for refusing to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic has died from complications of COVID-19. Richard Rose III died on July 4, just three days after he tested positive for the virus, according to his obituary. Rose, who spent nine years in the U.S. Army, was 37.

On April 28, Rose shared a Facebook message declaring he would never wear a mask. "I'm not buying a f—ing mask," Rose wrote. "I've made it this far by not buying into that damn hype." Just over two months later, Rose revealed on Facebook that he was experiencing coronavirus symptoms and was going to get tested, reports Today. Rose also shared photos on social media showing him visiting a local bar in June. He wrote on July 1 that he was feeling ill for "the past few days" and got tested for the coronavirus. "I should know soon what the results are," he wrote. "I just want to feel good again."

Hours later, Rose revealed that he rested positive and was "under quarantine" for 14 days. "Sucks because I had just started a new job," he wrote. The following day, he said the "COVID s— sucks!" and he was "out of breath just sitting there." His last post was a meme he shared on July 3, reading, "When you see me in heaven don't s— yourselves you judgmental pricks."

Rose's death was announced on July 5. According to his obituary, Rose died at home. He is survived by his mother and step-father, sister, brother, and half-sister. "He served his country in the United States Army for nine years serving two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan," his obituary reads. "He enjoyed social media, online streaming, paranormal and his two cats Dale and Tucker. He was a fan of NASCAR, Dirt Track Racing and Georgia Bulldogs Football."

A few days after Rose's death, his friend Nick Conley said Rose was healthy before he tested positive. He believed he did not need to wear a mask because he was "young and healthy." Conley warned that the virus is real. "Just because you don’t personally know someone affected yet doesn’t mean it’s not real," he wrote on Facebook.


Conley later told WOIO that his friend is being "slaughtered" online because of his anti-mask post and asked people to show compassion. "We should still be compassionate whether we agree with someone’s beliefs or not," Conley said. "Someone has passed away and we should have some compassion towards that." Rose's death was "horrible," Conley said, adding that it was even more tragic because "others may have become infected "because of the actions that he chose."

The Ohio Department of Health reported 74,932 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, 9,555 hospitalizations and 3,174 deaths, reports WSYX. On Saturday, there were 1,110 new cases and 42 new deaths. Over 51,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said Sunday he is considering a statewide mask mandate.