Her “prank” came at a time households are already struggling to obtain groceries.
A Pennsylvania grocery store had to throw out $35k worth of produce over a "very twisted prank".
The owners of Gerrity’s Supermarket claimed that a woman entered the store on Wednesday and purposely coughed all over the fresh produce, as well and the bakery and meat sections, in what they called "a very challenging day."
"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," co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook. "We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with."
Staff moved as quickly as possible to get the woman – "who the police know to be a chronic problem in the community" — out of the store.
Police took her into custody, and the case has been passed to the District Attorney’s Office, which assured the owners they will be "aggressively pursuing numerous charges", Fasula said.
They said more than $35,000 worth of stock had to be binned – at a time when many households are finding it hard to obtain groceries amid the coronavirus lockdown.
"I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food. While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing," Fasula said, adding that he was unsure if insurance would cover the costs.
He said that the store did not believe the woman was truly infected with COVID-19, but that they would be making every effort to ensure she gets tested.
Meanwhile 15 employees were drafted into the cleanup and disinfection effort.
"One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast PA," he wrote.
This week the Department of Justice said anyone who intentionally spreads the novel coronavirus could be charged with terrorism.
In a memo, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said the virus "appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’," and that "such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes."
"Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," he said.
On Thursday, America’s number of coronavirus cases soared past 75,000, while the number of deaths passed 1,100.
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