A grocery store in northeastern Pennsylvania had to throw away an estimated $35,000-worth of products after a woman went through the store coughing on food in what the store's co-owner called a "twisted prank."
The incident happened Wednesday at the Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township, according to a post on the small chain's Facebook page. Co-owner Joe Fasula said a the woman "came into the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery."
Fasula said the estimated value of the lost food is "well over $35,000." He added police are investigating and the district attorney's office is involved. Fasula added efforts are being made to have the woman tested for coronavirus, though she is not believed to be infected.
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The Hanover Township Police Department confirmed it was investigating the incident in a Facebook post late Wednesday. The department said the woman has been identified and is being evaluated at a local hospital "for a mental health evaluation." Police said criminal charges will be filed in the incident.
Store workers got the woman out of the supermarket as quickly as possible, Fasula said. He added more than 15 employees were involved in the disposal of the food and clean-up of the store.
"I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food," Fasula said. "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 said the store threw out all of the food the woman came into contact with and disinfected the areas she was in.
"While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers," he said.
Gerrity's Supermarkets has nine locations in Pennsylvania, according to its website. There are more than 1,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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State Gov. Tom Wolf has issued stay-at-home orders for 10 Pennsylvania counties as of Wednesday night, though the orders don't extend to Hanover Township.
Coronavirus-related mishaps at grocery stores has cropped up as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic. People have been caught coughing on produce — and other people — and a Missouri man was recently arrested after he filmed himself licking merchandise at Walmart.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus 'prank' costs Pennsylvania grocery store $35K in food