Police arrested three teenagers on March 20 after they allegedly attacked and coughed on an elderly couple in Hertfordshire, England. The incident follows several other indications that young people are not taking the pandemic seriously. Elsewhere, teens are reportedly participating in viral coronavirus pranks, while spring break crowds in beach cities have been large despite health warnings.
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A Sick Joke
The coughing/attack incident in Hertfordshire involved three males aged 16, 18, and 19 who allegedly approached an elderly couple. Reportedly, one of the teens coughed in the couples’ faces, prompting intervention from a passerby. In the struggle that followed, a member of the elderly couple, a woman in her 70s, sustained a black eye. Meanwhile, the passerby who intervened, a man in his 30s, also suffered bruising, according to the BBC.
Police arrested and questioned the three teenagers on suspicion of actual bodily harm, affray, and criminal damages, before releasing them under investigation, the outlet reports. Meanwhile, the elderly woman was taken to a hospital for a check-up before being discharged.
A Viral Coughing Prank?
Before this incident, numerous stories of young people showing a troubling disregard for coronavirus protection measures have surfaced. Over the weekend, police in Purcellville, Virginia investigated reports of two teens coughing on produce and customers in a grocery store. They discovered the reports stemmed from an apparent viral coughing prank.
“The investigation concluded the teenagers were getting close to other patrons and coughing into their own sleeves, while filming it on their phones,” read a statement from the Purcellville Police Department. “After viewing the video footage, officers determined no actual customers or produce were spit or coughed on directly.”
While police cleared the teens of criminal charges, they also warned parents against their kids participating in such pranks. “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,” they said, per ABC 10 News.
Spring Break Concerns
Meanwhile, experts are concerned about young people who participated in spring break last week with no regard for social distancing. Indeed, officials are saying that Millenials and youth are considered a high-risk group for contracting the coronavirus.
“What is happening in Florida with spring break partying-on by students oblivious to the epidemiological implications of their actions is nothing short of tragic,” Yale epidemiology professor Gregg Gonsalves told Politico. “While many of us have been hunkering down to try to break the chains of infection in our communities, these young people have decided the pleasures of the moment are worth bringing back the coronavirus to friends and family.”