Nino Vitale is the State Representative serving in the Ohio House who is making headlines after he demanded that people stop getting tested for the coronavirus and compared current health measures to living under a dictatorship.
Vitale, a Republican from Urbana, Ohio, has been outspoken in his disapproval of how Governor Mike DeWine has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Vitale pushed back against mandatory shutdowns and in mid-April, publicly called for the governor to rescind stay-at-home orders.
He has also used his social media accounts to speak out against wearing masks, arguing that people shouldn’t cover their faces because faces are “the image of God.” Vitale co-sponsored a bill in May that would have banned any state officials from enacting mask requirements without the consent of two-thirds of the Ohio House and Senate.
Here’s what you need to know:
Vitale Argued That COVID Testing Gives State Officials the Ability to Hype the Threat of the Virus
Vitale is among the critics who have argued that statewide mandatory shutdowns and business closures were unconstitutional. He described Gov. DeWine, Lieutenant Gov. Jon Husted and former Department of Health Director Amy Acton as the “Terrible Tyrannical Trio” in a Facebook post in early June, upon learning that Acton was resigning.
Vitale continued that rhetoric in a Facebook post on July 7. He wrote, “Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet? This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED!”
Vitale argued in his post that the threat of the coronavirus is not as dire as officials claim. He said that increased testing is “giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening. Have you noticed they never talk about deaths anymore, just cases? And they never talk about recoveries. They just keep adding to numbers they have been feeding us from over 3 months ago!”
Vitale included a link to the Ohio Department of Health’s map that uses a color-coded system to highlight the threat level in each country based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
According to the official state data, there were nearly 60,000 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases in Ohio as of July 7 and nearly 3,000 people have died. The Ohio Department of Health charts show a steady increase in the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths and recoveries since March. The number of recoveries plateaued in mid-June.
On July 7, there were 948 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 deaths due to complications from the virus were reported. One week prior, 743 new cases were reported and 45 deaths. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out, it can take local authorities a few days to report cases and deaths to state officials. WKYC-TV, citing government data, reported that Ohioans between the ages of 20 and 29 account for 26% of new cases.
Vitale Questioned Why Enforcement of the New Mask Requirement In Seven Ohio Counties Was Delayed
Vitale’s Facebook post was focused on the new mask mandate from Gov. DeWine. The governor announced on July 7 that masks needed to be worn in public across seven counties that have seen spikes in coronavirus cases: Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull. Those counties include Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, the largest cities in the state. Those who defy the order may be charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to pay a small fine.
The order was scheduled to take effect at 6 p.m. on July 8. Vitale questioned why there was a delay in implementing the order and suggested the delay was evidence that the mandate was unnecessary. “But what is totally illogical, is if this is such an urgent matter, why wait almost 30 hours? They make no sense. Stop listening to these frauds.”
The mask mandate will remain in place until new coronavirus cases go down. Children under age 10 are exempt from the order, as well as those with medical reasons for not wearing a mask.
Vitale Says Only Criminals Wear Masks & Called Face Coverings a ‘Crime Against Freedom’
Vitale has long been outspoken against wearing a face-covering in public. In May, he cited a religious reason for why he would not personally wear a mask and why he felt others should avoid the practice as well: “This is not the entire world. 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.”
On July 3, Vitale argued on Facebook that only criminals wear masks. “In most of history, the only people I know that wear masks are those trying to get away with a crime. And this entire mask deal is simply that, a crime against freedom and a crime against humanity.”
Vitale expanded on the notion that mask mandates defy American freedoms in that Facebook post:
The mask is a symbol of freedom?
It is interesting how one person’s (DeWine’s) symbol of freedom is a symbol of oppression and government control by others.
Is this why when we fight wars, men of honor wear masks?
Is this why when the Battle of Independence was fought for this country’s freedom from England, they all wore masks?
Is this why when the US Constitution was being debated and signed, they all wore masks?
Where has our independence gone? And most people seem to be just fine with putting on a mask when there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing masks actually do harm. But of course, most people wouldn’t know it because the media and politicians constantly propagandize people into wearing them with NO SCIENTIFIC backing, and the many studies that exist that show, by actual research, that masks can be harmful, are banned, blocked and shamed.
Vitale cited data on July 8 that claimed masks do not protect against “respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.” He cited an article by Denis G. Rancourt, a former physics professor at the University of Ottawa and current researcher at the Ontario Civil Liberties Association.
Vitale also pointed out that the guidance about whether to wear a mask had not been consistent. Early on in the pandemic, public health officials initially said that only doctors and other medical providers needed to wear masks, in light of a reported shortage of personal protective gear. The nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has acknowledged that conflicting guidelines early on created confusion. Fauci has repeatedly insisted that wearing masks is beneficial and can help to slow the spread. The CDC noted on its website that masks can prevent asymptomatic people, who are not aware they are infected, from spreading the virus.