Licking groceries is a crime, COVID or not.
Jennifer Walker, 53, of California reportedly decided she would enter a Safeway convenience store and lick groceries and jewelry, contaminating $1,800 worth of merchandise, according to a police report. Walker was booked on “suspicion of felony vandalism” after the products affected were deemed unsellable by the store’s owner. She evidently licked each item and placed it in her cart because she had no way of actually paying for them and, thus, thought she would be able to leave the store with the compromised goods.
The incident is especially concerning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and because it took place in California, a state that remains one of the hardest hit by the virus with nearly 500 death to date. Social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions have been implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those facilities that are staying open because they are deemed critical have implemented strict six-feet-apart rules in which patrons are asked to keep a distance of at least six feet from each other in order to avoid the spread of the virus through bodily fluids, including saliva. Most stores have measured out where each customer should stand in a check out line and have marked spots with x’s.
Just last month, a clip also aired on national television after being posted on Twitter showing another man purposely licking groceries, although he contaminated them by running his tongue along a whole row of items and leaving them on the shelves. The unidentified man, suspected to be from Missouri, said, “Who’s afraid of the coronavirus” before recklessly destroying the products and leaving them for unsuspecting customers to picked up.
Piers Morgan, one of the hosts of Good Morning Britain said after sharing the clip, “What I would like to happen to him is I’d like him found, and I am sure they will get him. I would like him put in prison, immediately. And then I would like him deprived of any healthcare should he then get the virus having tried to deliberately give it to potentially lots of other people.”
Even more recently, earlier in April two men were filmed licking their hands in a U.K. supermarket and wiping them all over meat, vegetables, and fridge handles. Upon reviewing the footage, the store took immediate precautions disinfecting everything and tossing the damaged goods.
“That anyone could think this sort of behavior is appropriate or amusing even in normal times is beyond me, but at this time of crisis when many people have been faced with empty shelves in some shops is flabbergasting,” said Inspector James Martin.
A federal intelligence brief released amid COVID has also warned White supremacists have discussed plans to weaponize coronavirus via “saliva,” a “spray bottle” or “laced items.” Messages were intercepted on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. In the conversations, the group suggested targeting law enforcement agents and “nonwhite” people with attacks designed to infect them with the coronavirus. The FBI warned, “Members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions.”