This week, the Police Department of Warrenton Missouri arrested and took into custody a man after he posted a video of himself licking a bunch of items in a Walmart in Warren County after claiming “who’s afraid of the coronavirus?” Cody Pfister has reportedly now been charged with making a terror threat in the second degree.
It's likely the 26-year-old was looking for some quick Internet fame, riding on the waves of news related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing the global pandemic right now. Pfister's video certainly went viral, but perhaps not with the kind of fame he was seeking. Complaints were sent to the local police-station from across the world about the individual's not only extremely unhygienic, but also 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 City of 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.”
He has reportedly been charged with carrying out a terrorist threat in the second degree by the Warren County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, reports the Riverfront Times in an article shared by Warrenton Police. In Missouri, a terrorist threat in the second degree means a person "recklessly disregards the risk of causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion of a building, infrastructure etc and knowingly... Communicates an express or implied threat to cause an incident or condition involving danger to life". It's classed as a low-level felony.
Pfister "knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed," court documents state, acting "with reckless disregard of the risk causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion" [of Walmart], reports the St Louis Post-Dispatch.
This is not the first case of people deciding to lick unusual surfaces for social media attention or to protest against the necessary preventive measures that governments, institutions, and private companies have put in place to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus and “flatten the curve” to prevent hospitals and healthcare institutes from being overwhelmed.
Newsweek reported a Wisconsin woman licked the door handle of a freezer at a Festival Foods store in Marshfield in an attempt to “protest” against the COVID-19 pandemic as a store manager was disinfecting the door handles. It's unclear what exactly she was protesting about but the police were called to the scene.
More worryingly, a few days ago, an influencer filmed herself licking the toilet seat of a private plane, calling it “the Corona challenge”. This quickly spread on social media with people taking part in licking car handles, public toilets, and more. These “challenges” are obviously dangerous, and not just because you yourself may develop COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 is suspected to survive on certain surfaces for up to 3 days, which means you may be responsible for spreading it without knowing it to hundreds of other people.
Plus, public toilets and other public places are crawling with nasty bacteria and other microbes that are extremely dangerous.