As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to expand in the U.S. you can be tagged as a threat to society if you lick things in public spaces. That happened to a man in Missouri who licked items in Walmart despite health authorities warning people could get coronavirus from bodily fluids of infected people.
Cody Pfister posted a video of himself putting his tongue on several items at the store in Warren County and asked “who’s afraid of the coronavirus?” It went viral and immediately grabbed the attention of many people on social media, including local authorities.
Pfister was arrested by the Police Department of Warrenton, Missouri early this week. The county’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office then charged the 26-year-old with making a terror threat in the second degree, IFLScience reported Wednesday.
Missouri considers an act as a terrorist threat in the second degree if it could cause the evacuation, quarantine or closure of buildings, infrastructure and other areas. It may also lead to “an incident or condition involving danger to life.”
The police department said they received complaints about the video even from people in other countries. Officials said people condemned Pfister for the unhygienic and dangerous behavior.
“This particular video, which won’t be shared here, has gained some international attention and we have received numerous reports about the video from locals, nearby residents, as well as people from the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom,” the Warrenton Police Department said in a Facebook post. “We take these complaints very seriously and would like to thank all of those who reported the video so the issue could be addressed.”
Court documents state that Pfister “knowingly caused a false belief or fear.” It is not the first time an individual decided to lick items in public spaces in an attempt to get social media attention or to protest against the coronavirus outbreak.
A woman in Wisconsin previously licked the door handle of a freezer at a Festival Foods store in Marshfield to “protest” against the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsweek reported. She did it at the time the store manager was disinfecting the handles.
Another woman filmed herself licking the toilet seat of a private plane in the past week to start “the Corona challenge.” Many people also criticized the act on social media but some of her followers reportedly took part in licking car handles, public toilets and other unusual surfaces.