A New Jersey man was arrested earlier this week after allegedly coughing on a supermarket employee and telling her he was a COVID-19 carrier.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday at an afternoon press conference that the man got into an altercation with a Wegmans employee on Monday.
"He coughed on the woman and told her, after doing so, that he had coronavirus," Murphy said.
The incident occurred at the Wegmans on Route 9 in Manalapan, which is about 50 miles south of NYC.
George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, has been charged with terroristic threats, harassment, and obstruction, NJ.com reported.
"There are knuckleheads out there. We see them, and we are enforcing behavior," Murphy said.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the incident began when Falcone was not practicing social distancing rules and stood to close to a Wegmans employee. The employee asked him to respect the rules as she covered the prepared food open display with a plastic cover.
It was reported that Falcon coughed, laughed, and told the employee he was a COVID-19 carrier. He also told other employees they were lucky to have jobs.
When Manalapan police officers arrived, Falcone refused to give his identity to police for nearly 40 minutes.
"These are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other— not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case," Grewal said.
"We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency. Just as we are cracking down on bias offenses and those who use the pandemic to fuel hatred and prejudice, we vow to respond swiftly and strongly whenever someone commits a criminal offense that uses the coronavirus to generate panic or discord," he added.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that people who intentionally spread COVID-19 could face criminal charges under federal terrorism laws, according to the DOJ's #2 official.
In a memo to top Justice Department leaders, law enforcement agency chiefs and U.S. Attorneys across the country, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said prosecutors and investigators could come across cases of “purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19.”
“Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’… such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” Rosen wrote. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.” -Politico
As of Wednesday morning, New Jersey has reported 3,675 confirmed cases and 44 deaths. As a whole, the US inched over the 50,000 mark on Tuesday. Hospital systems across the US can so far handle the influx of virus patients, with adequate capacity of hospital beds and ICU-level treatments. However, when hospital systems become overwhelmed, that is when the US could transform into an Italy-like scenario with an extraordinarily high mortality rate.
Here are more Covidiots for your enjoyment:
A corona virus monster from Warrenton, Missiouri, USA. His name is Cody Pfister. Says "who's scared of corona virus." Licks products at Walmart Supermarket. City of Warrenton Police Department have arrested him.#coronavirus #lockdown #LockdownNow #StayHome #COVID19 #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/G1vZsWxlgB— Dr. John Njenga Karugia, PhD (@johnnjenga) March 24, 2020