On July 10 2020, a number of Facebook users shared posts like the one below — purportedly screenshots from the profile of a user, Richard Rose, who initially adopted the position of a “COVID denier” before dying from it on July 4 2020:
Circulating Posts About Richard Rose’s Posts and Death
In the post above, four chronological posts attributed to Rose appeared, alongside the following status update from the poster:
There’s obviously no shortage of people who believe that following COVID-19 protocols makes you look weak. The insecurity and ignorance that fuels these outspoken acts of bravado are a separate conversation, but If you have a moment, please follow the last three months in the life of Richard Rose: https://www.facebook.com/rickrose2007
In a post dated April 28 2020, Rose was quoted as refusing to buy or wear a mask, vowing not to buy into that “damn hype.” On June 12 2020, a post captured Rose’s check-in to “Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island” in Ohio — alongside a remark that it was “not that packed lol.”
Two posts attributed to Rose were dated July 1 2020, the first of which was about Rose’s illness in the preceding days. In the second, Rose disclosed he was quarantined for fourteen days after testing positive for COVID-19.
A fifth and final screenshot included a smiling photograph of a genial-looking man and the words “Richard Rose, III Obituary.” Visible in that image were the dates of Rose’s birth and death: July 25 1982 and July 4 2020.
A similar collection of screenshots shared by the page “Guess what he says next” on July 10 2020 was shared thousands of times in just a few hours. In place of the two July 1 2020 posts, a single July 2 2020 post attributed to Rose was included:
On July 7 2020, somebody claiming to be a friend of Rose’s wrote:
This was my friend Richard Rose. Rick was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 1. Rick lost his life 3 days later on July 4th. Rick was healthy as far as we know and was only in his 30’s. 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.
Rick Rose’s Facebook Page
Posts seen in the screenshots were available and initially open to comments on public posts. It appeared that Rose’s Facebook page was memorialized at some point on July 10 2020, judging by the amount of activity to that date — a flood of engagement which ceased when the page was memorialized.
On April 28 2020, Rose posted the status commonly shared first in the circulating posts, in which he said “I’m not buying a fucking mask,” and “I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype”:
On June 13 2020, Rose commented “it’s not that packed lol” on his check-in post:
On June 29 2020, Rose expressed concern Halloween might “not happen” in 2020:
Rose’s final post appeared on July 3 2020, a meme that read:
When you see me in heaven don’t shit yourselves you judgmental pricks.
Comments on the post between July 4 2020 and July 7 2020 appeared to be solely from Rose’s friends, expressing shock and grief at his death. On July 10 2020, a number of new comments — apparently spurred by posts about his comments and death — appeared:
Does he still think it’s a hoax though?
An Obituary for Richard Rose III
Richard Donald Rose, III
July 25, 1982 – July 4, 2020
Born in Port Clinton, Ohio
Resided in Port Clinton, Ohio
Richard Donald Rose, III, 37, of Port Clinton passed away Saturday, July 4, 2020 due to complications of Covid-19 at his home. He was born July 25, 1982 in Port Clinton. He graduated from Port Clinton High School. He served his country in the United States Army for nine years serving two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. 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. Surviving are his mother and step-father: Tina and Kenny Heschel of Port Clinton; sister: Krystal Campbell of Genoa; brother: K. C. Heschel of Concord, NC; half-sister: Melissa Rose of Port Clinton. He was preceded in death by his grandparents: Carl and Marla Kessler, Cooper and Janice Heschel, Richard Rose, Mildred DeBlase. Funeral services will be conducted 11:00 am Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at Neidecker, Crosser & Priesman Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 1124 Fulton St. Port Clinton, OH where visitation will be held Tuesday from 2:00 – 4:00 and 6:00 – 8:00pm. Interment will be at Riverview Cemetery, Port Clinton, OH. Memorial contributions may be given to the family. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.neideckercrosserpriesman.com[.]
It is true that a man named Richard Rose (who appeared to go by “Rick”) published a Facebook post in April 2020, expressing his belief that the use of masks to cut down on COVID-19 transmission was “damn hype.” We did not find extensive posting from Rose about the pandemic. It is further true that Rose posted about his illness on July 1 and 2 2020, and he died of complications from COVID-19 on July 4 2020. His last post referenced “heaven,” but chronologically he appeared to go from viewing his diagnosis as an inconvenience on July 1 2020 to dying three days later. Rose’s page was memorialized on the afternoon of July 10 2020, likely in response to a flood of comments.