Utah man charged after he coughs on cops, claiming he has coronavirus

A Vernal man is accused of coughing on multiple sheriff’s deputies, claiming that he may have coronavirus and telling the officers that they and their families would die.

The man, 33, now faces a felony charge of threatening terrorism, as well as other charges.

The man was being arrested Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving when he told four deputies at the Duchesne County jail that he has been around people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms of the virus, court documents state.

“He ... then started coughing and blowing into three deputies’ faces and into mine, saying that now we all will have it and we will give it to our families and that all of our families are going to die,” one deputy wrote. “I warned [the man] multiple times that I would charge him with terroristic threats if he continued.”

The man has been charged with second-degree felony threat of terrorism, a misdemeanor count of willful introduction of a communicable disease, and misdemeanors related to the initial traffic stop on suspicion of DUI.

A judge ordered that he be held without bail, saying he posed a “substantial threat to the community” or may flee. Prosecutors and police asked the judge to withhold bail until he could be tested for COVID-19, but the judge’s order doesn’t address his medical status.