Could intentionally spreading the coronavirus be considered a terrorist act?
Yes… if the Warrenton Police Department has anything to say about it.
Cody Lee Pfister was arrested for licking items at a Missouri Walmart to mock fears around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pfister posted the video online and asked, "Who's scared of the coronavirus?"
It didn't take long before people began calling the Warrenton Police Department.
Local residents as well as people from around the globe called to complain. Calls were coming from countries including Ireland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
See Pfister's video below:
Health authorities continue to urge Americans to practice healthy hygiene including washing their hands and observing social distancing.
Medical experts also recommend that you avoid touching your face.
Pfister, however, licked items at his local Walmart, any of which would have been infected.
It is not clear whether or not he has COVID-19, and it is now being reported by some that the virus can live on a surface for up to 17 days.
NBC News has more on Pfister's untimely antics:
A 26-year-old Missouri man seen in a social media video licking items at a Walmart to mock fears of the coronavirus pandemic was arrested and charged with terrorist threats.
Cody Lee Pfister posted a video of himself licking deodorants at the Warrenton store on March 11, according to court documents. As he wiped his tongue across the packages he asked, "Who's scared of coronavirus," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Pfister was arrested on Monday.
The City of Warrenton Police Department in a Facebook post that said it received calls from local residents as well as people overseas in the Netherlands, Ireland and the United Kingdom to report the video.
"We take this incident very seriously especially with this infectious disease and the state that the country is in," Lt. Justin Unger told NBC News. "We take these things seriously to protect our community.”
A criminal complaint states that Pfister "knowingly caused a false belief or fear that a condition involving danger to life existed" by posting the video online. He appeared in court on Wednesday and is due back in May.
Strangely enough, Pfister isn't the first person to get in trouble because of the coronavirus.
An unnamed woman in Wisconsin licked door handles at a grocery store to protest the virus.
A video went viral of a girl licking an airplane toilet seat to mock the coronavirus. See below:
It's unclear whether Pfister was participating in the so-called "coronavirus challenge" or whether he was simply licking random items to taunt viewers.
Regardless, in theage of social distancing, Pfister's actions were tone deaf and dangerous from himself and for others.
Many carriers of the virus are asymptomic, so Pfister could have inadvertantly spreading the virus on objects that other people would touch.
Business Insider has more details on the terrorist charges against Pfister:
Pfister was then charged by the Warren County Prosecuting Attorney's Office with a terrorist threat in the second degree, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
In Missouri, making a terrorist threat in the second degree means ignoring the risk of "causing the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any portion of a building" and is a class E felony, which means it can be met with a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, according to the Post-Dispatch.
The Warrington Police Department said on Facebook that people around the world had been in touch to complain about the video. The department said it "received numerous reports about the video from locals, nearby residents, as well as people from the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom."
"We take these complaints very seriously and would like to thank all of those who reported the video so the issue could be addressed."
Pfister's attorney did not respond to a message from the Post-Dispatch as of Tuesday. According to the Post-Dispatch, he has previously pleaded guilty to charges including burglary and stealing a firearm.
The CDC recommends that people wash their hands, stay 6 feet apart from other people in public, avoid touching their faces, and avoid congregating in groups of 10 or more.
As of this writing, 60,115 people in the United States have been infected, and it's been a nationwide effort to flatten the curve.
The City of Warrenton Police Department's comments can be viewed in their entirety below.