Richard Rose, 37, died at home in Port Clinton, Ohio, on July 4 – just three days after testing positive for Covid-19, his family said.
The veteran, who served in the Army for nine years and did two tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, had no pre-existing health conditions, it’s reported.
His tragic death came after he repeatedly claimed the virus was just “hype” and said he refused to wear a face mask, 19 News reports.
On April 28 he posted on Facebook: “Let make this clear – I'm not buying a f***ing mask.
“I've made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.”
And on May 12, he wrote: “I've gotten sick of turning my TV on to political smear ads and s*** about Covid.
“So yesterday I turned my cable box in.
“I've also started snoozing people on here. It's time to block out negativity.”
This Covid s*** sucks! I'm so out of breath just sitting here."Richard Rose
But on July 1 Rose posted to reveal he had suddenly started feeling unwell.
He wrote: “I've been very sick the past few days. Symptoms of Covid-19.
“This morning I finally got swabbed. I should know soon what the results are.
“I just want to feel good again!”
Later that day he revealed he had tested positive for the bug, before posting the following day: “This Covid s*** sucks! I'm so out of breath just sitting here.”
Rose died two days later.
His pal Nick Conley said: “We were blown away, you know? You hear about this virus and you don’t expect it to affect people, younger people like ourselves.”
He said social media trolls were now tearing into his recently deceased friend, but urged them to show some “compassion” for his family.
Conley said: “Rick is getting slaughtered online right now for his decision that he made not to wear a mask and that’s not right.
“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.”
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The wearing of face masks has become a controversial topic in the US, with some refusing to follow the official health advice and put one on.
Donald Trump was only recently pictured wearing a mask for the first time after previously saying he wouldn’t put one on.
And protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the country demanding the lockdown is lifted and slamming social distancing regulations as an attack on freedom.