Lodi police seek criminal charges against woman for false COVID-19 claim

Lodi police seek criminal charges against woman for false COVID-19 claim

Police lights siren squad car

Lodi Police Chief Wayne Smith said Friday that a resident who made a false claim of testing positive for the new coronavirus has been recommended for disorderly conduct charges to the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.

Smith said in a statement that the 27-year-old resident posted on social media that she was diagnosed with COVID-19, a novel coronavirus spreading among humans that was recently announced a pandemic. Humans have no immunity to the virus, which has forced government officials to mandate the closure of most public gathering places and advise everyone to stay in their homes as much as possible, keeping 6 feet from others when they are in public.

Authorities were contacted by area residents and a business which had not allowed employees to work because of the post the woman made. Police learned the diagnosis was false and that the woman had not been diagnosed, nor even tested, for COVID-19.

According to Smith’s statement, medical personnel advised her to self-quarantine at home out of precaution after she expressed concerns for her health.

The post “resulted in unnecessary panic and concern in the greater Lodi Valley,” Smith noted, and urged citizens not to create fear because it “is not only irresponsible but could rise to the level of criminal behavior.”

Smith noted that anyone concerned for their health should contact a medical provider and to be aware that false information is often found on social media.

“The false information that was posted caused unwarranted fear among citizens and hardship to local business,” Smith noted.

The department recommended the district attorney’s office review recommended criminal charges against the woman, which include disorderly conduct.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

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