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Lodi police seek criminal charges after false COVID-19 claim
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Lodi police seek criminal charges after false COVID-19 claim

Lodi police interim command staff (copy) (copy)

Columbia County Sheriff's Office Lt. Wayne Smith stands outside the Lodi Police Department on Tuesday alongside administrative assistant Melissa Randall-O'Neil. 

Lodi Police Chief Wayne Smith announced 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.

According to the announcement, 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.

Authorities were contacted by area residents and a business that 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 coronavirus.

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 said, and urged citizens not to create fear because it “is not only irresponsible but could rise to the level of criminal behavior.”

Smith said 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 said.

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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