The newest teen internet challenge we hope gets nipped in the bud? Coughing on grocery store produce and other patrons, then uploading it for a chance at internet fame. This prank is extremely thoughtless and dangerous in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. COVID-19 is known to spread human-to-human via “droplets” spraying from mouths. One such incident took place at a Harris Teeter grocery store in Purcellville, Virginia.
Harris Teeter employees immediately threw out hundreds of dollars worth of produce and called police. The Purcellville Police Department notified the public and identified the teens using CCTV footage, contacted their parents and interviewed the teens.
“It appears they were trying to do it as a practical joke and a prank, ” Lieutenant Barry A. Dufek of the Purcellville Police Department said on PPD’s Facebook page.
According to police, the teens admitted getting close to other customers and coughing into their own sleeves while recording with their phones. When reviewing CCTV footage, police saw no customers and produce directly coughed or spit on. They determined there was no criminal intent and didn’t release identities and footage due to their age.
Police chose not to pursue any charges and turned to educating the teens and their parents about the possible repercussions of their actions.
This isn’t the first prank to come out of the current pandemic. Last month, a couple of New York teenagers took to the subway to prank passengers. In the prank, they dressed in hazmat suits and facial masks and held a bucket of orange liquid while sitting on the subway. The liquid’s container had multiple “WARNING” stickers all over it, causing passengers to be worries. In the video uploaded, one of the teens trips and spills the liquid all over the floor.
While some found it funny, others were furious at teens making light of a serious situation.
On their Facebook, the police department wrote, “With school closures in effect, this allows for more idle time among children, especially teenagers who are often not supervised as closely. However, we still ask that parents continue to monitor their children’s activities, including social media viewing and posting, and to discourage the promotion of any such fear-inducing behavior.”