Ohio Representative Nino Vitale is bucking the state’s governor’s pleas for Ohioans to stem the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a facemask, explaining on Facebook that our faces are made in the image of God and are not meant to be covered.
“This is not the entire world,” Vitale wrote in a Monday Facebook post. “This is the greatest nation on earth founded on Judeo-Christian Principles. One of those principles is that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. That image is seen the most by our face. I will not wear a mask.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has been largely praised for his aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic, but he backed off a state mandate that would have required people to wear masks at businesses.“It became clear to me that that was just a bridge too far,” DeWine said. “People were not going to accept the government telling them what to do.” DeWine says he still “highly” recommends that people wear masks in public.
In Vitale’s Facebook post, he took issue with Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton’s advice about the pandemic, specifically the masks. “We’re created in the image and likeness of God. When we think of image, do we think of a chest or our legs or our arms?” Vitale says. “We think of their face. I don’t want to cover people’s faces.”
Vitale urged counties to “ignore the unelected Dr. Acton’s orders” and “open your counties now before it’s too late.”
“This is not based on logic,” he insisted. “This is based on fear and propaganda and every statistical, data-driven study done in the last 2 weeks says death counts are low, the models were wrong and this is more like the flu.”
Vitale is incorrect on this point. As Vox notes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 12,000 and 61,000 people die of the flu in a year. As of May, COVID-19 was responsible for 69,000 confirmed deaths in the U.S. — a number many experts believe is low. It is still killing around two thousand people a day.
The Ohio Department of Health reports that the state has had 19,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Monday, along with 970 confirmed deaths.