Ohio legislator urges residents to stop getting tested for coronavirus as cases rise in state

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State Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, speaks about his proposal to allow Ohio's churches and pastors refuse to perform same-sex marriages, during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio (Ann Sanner/AP/Shutterstock)

State Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, speaks about his proposal to allow Ohio’s churches and pastors refuse to perform same-sex marriages, during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio (Ann Sanner/AP/Shutterstock)

An Ohio state lawmaker called for people to stop getting tested for coronavirus as he railed against a state health order requiring people in seven Ohio counties to wear masks in public spaces starting this week.

“Are you tired of living in a dictatorship yet?” Republican state Rep. Nino Vitale wrote in a post on Facebook Tuesday after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, announced the mask mandate. “This is what happens when people go crazy and get tested. STOP GETTING TESTED! It is giving the government an excuse to claim something is happening that is not happening at the magnitude they say it is happening.”

Vitale called into question why the new order wouldn’t go into effect until Wednesday evening, saying “if this is such an urgent matter, why wait almost 30 hours? They make no sense. Stop listening to these frauds.”

CNN has reached out to Vitale for additional comment.

Although health officials have consistently stressed the importance of testing to identify those stricken with the virus and areas where it is spreading, several elected officials — most notably President Donald Trump — have downplayed the need, with the President going so far last month as to suggest he asked for testing to be slowed down. As Trump put it, “by having more tests, we have more cases.”

In May, Vitale introduced a bill that would not allow any Ohio official to require facial coverings for residents without two-thirds majority of the Ohio Senate and House.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face mask in public to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Face masks “may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others” since individuals can spread the virus to others even if they do not feel sick,” the CDC says.

The new Ohio Department of Health order, which went into effect at 6:00 p.m., mandates face coverings in public in seven counties that are experiencing a very high exposure and spread of Covid-19.

The order extends to Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Huron, Montgomery and Trumbull counties, which includes the state’s most populous cities, Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

“In addition to social distancing and reducing unnecessary interactions with others, we know that wearing a mask helps protect others in the community,” DeWine said Tuesday.

“We have seven separate counties with a significant number of people in the state of Ohio who we feel have a huge imminent crisis,” DeWine said.

Ohio is one of at least 31 states that have showed an upward trend in average new daily cases, CNN has reported. The state has reported more than 60,000 cases of coronavirus and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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