As states across the US raced to shut down businesses, limit mass gatherings, and enforce social distancing last week amid the Covid-19 outbreak, one Texas millennial was arrested after he sparked chaos in East Texas for lying on social media about contracting the deadly disease, reported CBS Austin.
The Tyler County District Attorney's Office said they received numerous complaints about a man claiming on social media that he tested positive for coronavirus on March 13. Deputies made contact with 23-year-old Michael Lane Brandin of Woodville, Texas, for his Facebook post, where he claimed that he had contracted the virus and health officials at Tyler County Hospital told him that the virus has become airborne.
Sheriff Bryan Weatherford told KJAS that Brandin turned himself in on Tuesday and was charged with False Alarm, which is a class A misdemeanor, and Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette set his bond at $1,000.
District Attorney Lucas Babin said the young man's Facebook post caused panic across East Texas. He said phone lines at Tyler County Hospital were tied up with concerned residents.
Babin said Brandin told Tyler County investigators that he wrote the post as a "social experiment" to make a point that everything online can't be trusted. Babin said the young man did it for attention.
Babin wrote a Facebook post reminding residents:
"Knowingly communicating, initiating, or circulating a false report/false alarm of COVID-19 that one *knows is false or baseless*, and that would ordinarily cause action by an official or interrupt the occupation of any place of assembly, can be a criminal offense in the State of Texas."
As of Thursday morning, Texas has 201 confirmed cases. The US is now pushing above the 9,200, with 137 deaths. The move in cases this week has been exponential and will likely continue throughout the month.