Ohio man who disparaged lockdown measures on Facebook dies of coronavirus

His alleged posts have gone viral amid protests and debates about the loosening of social distancing measures across the country.

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By Doha Madani

Social media posts of an Ohio man who disparaged coronavirus lockdown measures are now circulating online after he died of COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

Screenshots of Facebook posts calling social distancing measures “bullshit” have surfaced online just days after John W. McDaniel, 60, died of coronavirus on April 15. One screenshot of a post dated March 13 included an accusation that the virus was a “political ploy.”

“If you’re paranoid about getting sick, just don’t go out,” another post allegedly said. “It shouldn’t keep those of us from Living Our Lives. The Madness has to stop.”

The posts have gone viral, even getting the attention of British broadcaster Piers Morgan.

“Let his death be a warning to everyone else who wants to be ‘living our lives’ & ignore lockdowns - it may END your life,” Morgan tweeted Tuesday.

NBC News was unable to find McDaniel’s account, which may have been deleted, and cannot independently verify the screenshots. McDaniel's family did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

McDaniels was a lifelong resident of Marion, Ohio, and an avid fan of Ohio State University, according to his obituary. His family described him as an entertaining storyteller who “loved life and loved everyone he knew with his whole heart.”

In a statement to an NBC affiliate in Ohio, his wife wrote: "We ask you to remember we are a family mourning an unbearable loss. Use this as a reminder to continue practicing social distancing and keep each other safe."

The scrutiny of McDaniel’s alleged posts have come after some in Ohio protested Gov. Mike DeWine’s social restrictions and amid debates around the reopening of businesses amid the pandemic.

DeWine announced last week his intention to "start opening Ohio back up," with a tentative date to begin loosening restrictions on May 1. Other governors in states such as South Carolina and Georgia have also announced their plans to lift restrictions, even allowing some retailers to open this week.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that a May 1 reopening might be too early. The White House's top coronavirus expert said that limits on testing would make it difficult to prevent new infections.

"We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we're not there yet," Fauci told The Associated Press last week.