The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is known to spread easily, and coughing is a key way that the virus is transmitted. According to Gerrity’s Supermarket in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on March 25, a woman intentionally coughed on the produce section at their Hanover Township location.
The co-owner of the supermarket shared what happened on Facebook, and said that they were forced to throw out $35,000 worth of produce because of the woman’s actions. The police were contacted and the case is now with the District Attorney’s Office.
They started the post by saying this occurred March 25 at 2:20 p.m. at the Hanover Township branch of the supermarket, just southwest of Scranton. Joe Fasula, the co-owner, said that the police knew this woman to be “a chronic problem in the community.” According to the store’s manager, the woman came in and intentionally coughed on the fresh produce section.
Fasula’s statement continues:
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.
He thanked his team for getting the woman out of the store as quickly as possible and contacting the police. The case is now with the District Attorney’s Office, and they told Fasula that they will be “aggressively pursuing numerous charges.” They also said that they don’t believe the woman has COVID-19, but they will “make every effort to see that she is tested.”
He finished his post by outlining the positive from the experience, which is that it gave the store “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,” Fasula wrote.
He thanked everyone who helped, including those who came in on their day off and those who stayed late to help. “I would also like to thank the people who will going in early tomorrow to get the departments restocked,” he finished. “One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast PA.”