A 19-year-old man named Tyler Wallace is in police custody after he entered a Walmart last Sunday in the Chicago suburb of Joliet. He walked through the store wearing a mask and sign that said “I have the coronavirus.” He sprayed Lysol on produce, clothing, and other products. According to the Chicago Tribune, he faces charges of disorderly conduct, retail theft, and criminal trespass to property.
A 17-year-old friend who accompanied Wallace in the store is also facing charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. His case will be handled by juvenile courts.
Police don’t believe that either teen is actually infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Walmart says it cost $7,300 to replace the produce and another $2,400 to clean up the store after the incident.
People in the Chicago area are on high alert over the novel coronavirus since two residents, a wife and husband, have been identified as infected. The wife, who recently traveled to China, transmitted the infection to her husband upon her return. The husband’s case was the first documented instance of person-to-person spread of the virus in the US. There have been a total of 12 confirmed infections in the United States.
Globally, more than 31,000 people have been infected with the virus, which has killed at least 630 people. The vast majority of these infections have occurred in China. There are also confirmed infections in neighboring countries—including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia—as well as Western countries like the United States, Canada, France, and Germany.