An Ohio state legislator is urging people not to get tested for COVID-19.
Republican State Rep. Nino Vitale made the request on his state representative Facebook page Tuesday after the state announced that counties determined to be "high-risk" for COVID-19 would require face coverings be worn in public.
"Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet?" Vitale said. "This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED!"
Vitale claimed testing is "giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening."
Vitale's claim echoed those made by President Donald Trump last month at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — that an increase in testing is leading to disproportionately high case numbers. Trump has said he has asked administration officials to "slow down" testing to artificially deflate numbers, though many in his administration dispute those claims.
Daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 have steadily risen in Ohio since the beginning of June as testing has increased. But according to figures from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, it's not just new cases that are on the rise in Ohio — deaths are also beginning to tick up, and hospitalization resource use is also on the rise, indicating that an increase in testing is not the only factor in the numbers spike.
Currently, about 20 people die each day of COVID-19 in Ohio. The IHME estimates that with universal mask requirements, that number would drop to about four a day by Sept. 1.
Ohio currently lists seven counties that are considered "high risk." Vitale's district does not fall in any of those counties.
Despite recommendations from health experts, Vitale has consistently rallied supporters against the use of masks and face coverings. In May, he said he chooses not to wear a mask because he wants others to see he is made in God's image and likeness.