A "very challenging day" at a Pennsylvania grocery store started with a cough and ended with more than $35,000 worth of food being dumped. USA Today reports on the incident Wednesday at Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township, where a woman reportedly came in and "proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case, and grocery," per a Facebook post by store co-owner Joe Fasula. As soon as employees realized what was happening, they hustled her out of the store and called the cops, but the damage had been done. Despite believing the incident was nothing more than a "twisted prank," Fasula says, staff didn't want to take any chances during the coronavirus outbreak—and so they threw out "all product she came in contact with," which Fasula estimates was valued at "well over $35,000."
"I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food," he writes, noting that he's not sure if the store's insurance will cover that loss. "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." Fasula also notes the woman is known to be "a chronic problem in the community," per the New York Post; it's not clear what he means by that. Fasula adds that the district attorney's office has told him every effort will be made to get the woman "tested," ostensibly for the virus that causes COVID-19, though Fasula doesn't think she's infected. The Hanover Township Police Department notes in a release that the woman has been identified and is getting a mental health checkup at a nearby hospital. The department also says criminal charges will be filed. (Read more coronavirus stories.)