Coronavirus: Virginia Police Investigate Teens Filming Themselves Coughing on Produce in Local Grocery Store

Virginia police are urging parents to talk to their teens after investigating claims that young people were coughing on produce at a local grocery store and filming it for social media amid the coronavirus pandemic spread. In a Facebook post Thursday, the Purcellville Police Department revealed that the incident was reported to them after occurring the previous day at an undisclosed store, which immediately removed the tainted produce.

The police department wrote of their findings that ultimately, they were able to track down the teens involved and determined that no people or produce were actually spit or coughed on during the filming. "After a thorough investigation, the Purcellville Police Department identified the juveniles involved, notified their parents, and subsequently interviewed the subjects," the police wrote. "The two juveniles questioned admitted to their involvement, and it was determined that there was no criminal intent. The investigation concluded the teenagers were getting close to other patrons and coughing into their own sleeves, while filming it on their phones."

They continued, "After viewing the video footage, officers determined no actual customers or produce were spit or coughed on directly, but we appreciate the store's swift action in reporting the incident to police and removing any items in question to ensure the health of store patrons and employees. Due to the age of the minors involved, no names or video footage will be released."

Police urged that with school closures amid the pandemic spread, there is "more idle time" for kids, and that parents should monitor their children's activities, including social media, and "discourage the promotion of any such fear-inducing behavior."

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As for the broader scope of the social media implications, the police added in a previous Facebook post, "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. Please talk with your children and explain to them why such behavior is wrong, especially given the current situation regarding the spread of Coronavirus."

Photo credit: Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images