The co-owner of Gerrity's Supermarket has spoken out on Facebook about how one store in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, was forced to throw away "$35,000" of food after a woman "purposely coughed" on it.
Taking to social media, Joe Fasula - the co-owner of the grocery store chain - spoke out about how the unidentified woman entered the store on Wednesday afternoon, where she carried out her "twisted prank".
In the post, which was accompanied by pictures of empty shelves, Fasula detailed how the store worked with a Hanover Township health inspector in order to identify "every area" the woman had passed through, as they disposed of the products and "thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything."Related - This man was arrested and charged for licking a shelf of supermarket products:
Fasula added that the company would not "take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers", and that the woman's actions made him "absolutely sick to my stomach", during a time when many people are concerned about dwindling food stocks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per TMZ, the woman's actions also put the store's customers and at least 15 employees at risk of possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.The full post read:
"Today was a very challenging day.
At 2:20 PM today, I got a call from our Hanover Township store. The manager informed me that a ￼woman, who the police know to be a chronic problem in the community, came in to the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery.￼
"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 product she came in contact with. Working closely with the Hanover Township health inspector, we identified every area that she was in, we disposed of the product and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything.
"Although we have not yet quantified the total loss,￼ we estimate the value to be well over $35,000. We are checking to see if our insurance company will cover it, but even if they do, our rates will surely go up next year. 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.￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
"Our incredible team did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible. ￼The police were contacted immediately and the case has been escalated to the District Attorney’s Office.￼￼ They have assured me that they will be aggressively pursuing numerous charges. In addition, while we do not believe the woman is truly infected, they will make every effort to see that she is tested.
"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. At one point, we had over 15 employees involved in the disposal and clean up.￼￼
"I would like to thank every member of our organization who pitched in today to help, especially those of you who came in on your day off and those who stayed late. I would also like to thank the people who will going in early tomorrow to get the departments restocked. One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast PA."
In a follow-up post, the supermarket chain posted a series of pictures showing the support they had received from their local community, along with the caption:
"We are so lucky to live in a community that always comes together in a time of need for one another. What a wonderful surprise to come to work and find how much we are appreciated and for that is why we [HEART] our customers and community that we live in. Thank you so much!!!"
Per Politico, the federal government is taking swift and heavy action against individuals who knowingly spread COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice said anyone who carries out the "purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19" would face federal terrorism charges. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in a memo:
"Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent' […] 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."
Earlier this week, a 26-year-old man was arrested and charged by Warren County Police with making a terrorist threat, after he recorded himself licking an entire shelf of Walmart products.