Who is David Espino? US paintball player Jessica Maiolo fat-shames 17-year-old Covid patient
In the since-deleted 15-second video, Jessica Maiolo stood in front of TV airing a news report about children with coronavirus
Fitness trainer and Team USA Paintball player Jessica Maiolo was fired from the team after she was accused of 'fat shaming' a teen hospitalized for Covid-19 by saying he needs 'a f**king treadmill' more than a vaccine. On Tuesday, Team USA Paintball said that it has removed a member "indefinitely" following backlash over the now-viral TikTok video in which the player claimed that the boy’s weight contributed to the severity of his infection.
In the since-deleted 15-second video, Maiolo stood in front of TV airing a news report about children with the coronavirus and basically spread misinformation about Covid. The video gained attention in no time for not only being offensive but also allegedly spreading false claims about covid and body type.
According to NBC News, which viewed the video before it was deleted, Maiolo responded to a teenage boy who was in the hospital, saying, “Ma'am, your kid does not need a Covid shot. Your kid needs a f**king treadmill. That's what he needs." Many social media users took to the internet to condemn Maiolo for her commentary. One user named Savannah Sparks also made a video in response that also went viral, "Jessica, as a member of Team USA Paintball, I don’t think you’re qualified to speak on public health issues especially when it’s to fat-shame a hospitalized teenager who probably didn’t have a say in whether or not he was vaccinated." At the end of the video, she said, "Get vaccinated."
In a statement posted on by Team USA Paintball on its Instagram and Facebook pages, it was said that while it aims to “respect every individual’s right to have opinions and express them personally,” the “actions of one of our players was incredibly inappropriate and insensitive.”
“We do not condone it,” the team added. “Her opinions are hers alone and do not speak for a team, an organization, a sponsor or a sport.”
The team at first said it had suspended Maiolo while it investigated the video, but revealed in an update that the “investigation into the troubling conduct of Ms. Maiolo has been concluded and we have decided to remove her from the team indefinitely.”
“Team USA has no tolerance for discrimination or bullying of any kind,” the statement said. “It has always been our highest priority to represent our country with integrity and respect. To the family that did not need, ask or ever deserve to be put in this position — we thank you for allowing us this chance to show where we stand,” the team added.
Maiolo took to Instagram to apologize for her video, calling it a “moment of regret,” adding that she was “deeply sorry for any attention I have brought to this family.”
“I know that there is much I may not know about the boy in the video and I do hope that he is well,” she added. “In the last 24 hours I have learned a lot about the power of my reach and in the future, I will be more responsible with it.”
Who is David Espino?
David Espino, 17, is a high school football player in Florida who was not vaccinated and ended up in the hospital with Covid-19. In the television news report, Espino can be seen laying in his hospital bed while his mother says she regrets not getting him vaccinated sooner. "It’s been pretty scary," he reportedly told ABC News from his hospital bed. "I wasn’t actually able to go to the bathroom without shortness of breath a couple of days ago."
Maricela Espino, David's mother, said she planned on getting David the shot, especially after his pediatrician recommended it. Then she added, "For summer we were out of town and then for one thing or another, it just kind of, I pushed it back." David's current situation is now a message for Maricela. She said she's now planning on getting shots for her other children, aged 12 and 15, immediately. She said she's encouraging other parents to vaccinate their kids if eligible. "With school starting and you know we're here [at a hospital], and more than half of the kids here are, you know, due to Covid, and so it's scary," she said.
Maiolo has previously expressed her views against vaccinations. The 31-year has since responded to the furor, saying it was “never my intention to shame any individual.”
“What started out as me expressing my personal opinion about something I feel quite passionately about, has turned into a moment of regret for the situation I have put my teammates, our sponsors and the sport I love into,” she said in a statement. “If I were to have such a moment again to convey my full thoughts, I would choose my words more carefully and consider how my opinions may affect others."
"As may be evident by the hobbies I have, I am a passionate individual. My fire is the same for paintball and fitness as it is for self-advocacy and all of the things that make me proud to live where I do. I appreciate the opportunity to see this situation from the viewpoint of others, and to learn where I can do better and will. I hope that I may inspire others to realize the power of their words too."