Pennsylvania grocery forced to throw away $35k worth of products after woman deliberately coughs on them
While the authorities do not think the perpetrator is infected with the virus, they have promised to “make every effort” to get her tested
A woman reportedly ruined at least $35,000 worth of goods at a Pennsylvania grocery store by intentionally coughing all over them amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The store's owner Joe Fasula took to Facebook to reveal how the woman visited a Hanover Township branch of grocery chain Gerrity’s Supermarket before 2:20 pm Wednesday, before coughing on fresh produce, bakery items, meat case, as well as general grocery items, the New York Post reports.
Fasula wrote that while authorities do not think the woman -- who cannot be named for legal reasons -- is infected with the novel coronavirus, they have promised to “make every effort” to get her tested. According to the store owner, the woman in question is known to be a "chronic problem" in the community.
“While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers. We had no choice but to throw out all products she came in contact with,” Fasula wrote.
Following the incident, Gerrity's Supermarket immediately called the authorities while at least 15 employees thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the store under the guidance of the Hanover Township health inspector.
“The case has been escalated to the District Attorney’s Office. They have assured me that they will be aggressively pursuing numerous charges,” Fasula said.
“The only silver lining to this travesty is that it gave us the unfortunate opportunity to test our protocols and demonstrate how seriously we take your safety,” he added.
According to Johns Hopkins data, Luzerne County has 27 confirmed cases of the virus with one death. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has recorded nearly 1,300 confirmed cases of infection.
And according to the state’s Attorney General, a New Jersey man who allegedly intentionally coughed on a Wegmans employee on Tuesday has been charged with making terroristic threats, obstruction of law and harassment.
This comes just days after a group of teenagers filmed themselves coughing on fresh produce and patrons at a Virginia grocery store displaying a "sick" sense of humor. The store employees were vigilant enough to report the incident to the local police in Purcellville, VA.
The Purcellville police department released an update on March 20 saying that after a thorough investigation, they had "identified the juveniles involved, notified their parents, and subsequently interviewed the subjects. The two juveniles questioned admitted to their involvement, and it was determined that there was no criminal intent."
The police appreciated the "store’s swift action" in reporting the incident to police and removing any items in question to ensure the health of the store patrons and employees.
The teens had posted their coughing videos to social media, because it was part of a "disturbing trend" online, according to police.
“We have learned that this appears to be a disturbing trend on social media across the country, and we ask for help from parents to discourage this behavior immediately,” said the Purcellville police in a Facebook post on March 19. They also said the grocery store "immediately removed the items in question."
Given the cases of individuals intentionally coughing and pranking others in recent days, the Justice Department has come up with a memo saying Americans who deliberately expose and infect others with the deadly virus could be slapped with federal terrorism charges.