The Department of Justice, state, and local law enforcement authorities are sending out the message to everyone that the coronavirus is no joke and have begun arresting people who engage in activities of “purposeful exposure and infection” of COVID-19 to others and could face terror charges, as a number of people have already been charged.
You could face terrorism charges for exposing others to coronavirus
The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants everyone to know that playing around and exposing others to coronavirus is no laughing matter.
A new DOJ Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen issued a memo saying that anyone who deliberately spreads coronavirus could face federal terrorism charges for “purposeful exposure and infection.” The memo was sent to DOJ department leaders, US attorneys, and law enforcement agency Chiefs on Tuesday.
“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 in the memo. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.”
NJ man arrested for purposely coughing on worker, saying he has coronavirus
Law enforcement authorities in New Jersey arrested a man after he coughed on a Wegmans grocery store employee and told her he had the coronavirus.
The female employee of the grocery store says she told the man, George Falcone, 50, to take a step back, after she was concerned he was standing too close to her and an open display of food.
Instead, she says the man moved closer and “purposely” coughed on her. Allegedly, he then laughed and told her he was infected with the coronavirus.
He then reportedly told two other store employees that they were lucky to have jobs.
The incident was reported to authorities, who arrested Falcone and charged him with making terrorist threats, obstruction of law, and harassment.
New Jersey state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal warned that anyone trying to pull a similar stunt will also be charged.
“These are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other,” Grewal said, “not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case.”
Man who licked items in Walmart arrested, charged with making a terrorist threat
A Missouri man who filmed himself licking a row of items on a shelf in Walmart has now been arrested after the video went viral across social media.
Cody Pfister, 26, filmed himself sliding his tongue across a number of toiletries in a Walmart store. In the video that was posted to social media, the man said: “Who’s scared of the coronavirus?”
Police in Warrenton, Missouri, have now arrested Pfister and have charged him with making a terrorist threat.
The City of Warrenton Police Department posted a statement on Facebook on Monday, writing: “A local resident who took a video of themselves licking the merchandise after making a ‘Corona Virus’ statement at Walmart and posting it to social media has been taken into custody.”
The department thanked all those who reported the video to them so that they could investigate the issue.
DOJ going after hoarding and price-gouging
The Department of Justice has also created tasks force aimed specifically at combating hoarding and price gouging of medical supplies and health-related products, without immediately specifying which items are covered.