A North Carolina man has been arrested after filming himself walking around in a Walmart while lying about having coronavirus.
Justin Rhodes, 31, told viewers in the Facebook Live stream he was largely asymptomatic, except for a ‘tickly throat’, while claiming that he was breaching a 14-day quarantine and was going to infect others at the store.
He shot the video at the supermarket in Albermarle on Wednesday and was arrested on Friday, WRAL TV reported.
‘Definitely tested positive for coronavirus,’ he tells viewers, ‘Definitely was asked to self-quarantine for 14 to 21 days.’
He continues: ‘They say it’s highly contagious, obviously I’m in Walmart because I’ve got to eat too. So I’ve got to deal with it. If I’ve got it, y’all gone get it too. F**k all ya’ll that’s how I feel about it.’
Justin Rhodes, 31, told viewers in the Facebook Live stream he was largely asymptomatic, except for a ‘tickly throat’, while claiming that he was breaching a 14-day quarantine.
At another point in the video he says: ‘All these old people finna die, I don’t understand why they here. They need to have their nieces and their nephews and their granddaughters go get their sh*t.’
Albermarle police said in a statement they had confirmed with local health officials that nobody in Stanly County had tested positive for COVID-19.
Rhodes was charged with perpetrating a hoax and disorderly conduct. He was handed a $10,000 bond and will next appear in court on March 30.
It comes amid an increasing trend of coronavirus pranksters, particularly involving social media and the younger generations, who also happen to be least at risk of the disease.
He continues: ‘They say it’s highly contagious, obviously I’m in Walmart because I’ve got to eat too. So I’ve got to deal with it. If I’ve got you, y’all gone get it too. F**k all ya’ll that’s how I feel about it.’
It comes just days after police in Virginia said they had identified two teenagers who filmed themselves coughing on produce in a grocery store and uploading the video.
The incident in Purcellville, Virginia, some 55 miles from the White House, took place in a Harris Teeter store on March 18, but police determined that there was no criminal intent involved.
The store quickly informed the police and removed the produce involved, taking measures to ensure the safety of their customers from the coronavirus.
‘The two juveniles questioned admitted to their involvement, and it was determined that there was no criminal intent,’ the police statement read.
However, it added: ‘With schools closed to allow for social distancing to lessen the spread of the coronavirus, police also asked parents to monitor their children’s activities, including activities on social media ‘to discourage the promotion of any such fear-inducing behavior’.
In this video posted to TikTok and posted under #coughingchallenge and #coronaviruschallenge, two people are shown shopping while one pretends to cough
Social media videos show one person pretending to sneeze while the other runs away
‘With school closures in effect, this allows for more idle time among children, especially teenagers who are often not supervised as closely.
‘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.’
Social media searches for #coronaviruschallenge, #coughingchallenge and #grocerystorechallenge reveal similar videos.
In one video posted to TikTok, two people are seen inside a grocery store with one coughing and sneezing as he walks past the other shopping. He’s eventually handed some toilet paper to deal with the sneezes.
Another filmed in a Canadian store jokes at the reaction people have if a person starts to cough amid the current pandemic.
As one man pretends to cough, the other runs in the opposite direction down the aisle.
Many of those posted under the hashtags are of customers attempting to shop amid the panic with long lines and empty shelves making the normal chore more of a challenge than it used to be.
This video posted to TikTok showed one man running away when the other began to cough
Others are performing dances within grocery stores to try and raise the spirits of those battling through the crowds to stock up.
Schools around the country closed over the last two weeks to aid authorities in combating the spread of the coronavirus.
While evidence from China, the country first hit by a major outbreak, suggested that younger people were not at risk from the virus as much as the elderly, the number of cases in the U.S. so far is suggesting that all young people may not be as safe from serious health complications as first believed.