Coughing on someone during a pandemic might land you a luxurious stay in a jail cell.
A Florida woman found that out the hard way after she intentionally coughed on and threatened a mask-wearing cancer patient — an incident that was caught on video that later went viral.
According to the New York Times, 53-year-old Debra Jo Hunter will spend 30 days in jail, serve six months’ probation and participate in mental health evaluation and anger management courses in a sentence handed to her by a Jacksonville, Fla., judge.
On top of the sentence, the woman will also have to cover the cost of victim Heather Sprague’s COVID-19 test along with a $500 fine.
A video captured Hunter coughing on Sprague, who was shopping at a Pier 1 Imports store in Jacksonville. Sprague is a brain cancer patient who is immunocompromised and went on a rare shopping outing during the pandemic.
The viral video shows Hunter being aggressive with store employees before flipping the bird to Sprague, who was filming the incident.
“I think I’ll get really close to you and cough on you then. How’s that?” Hunter says.
She then walks towards the camera and coughs on Sprague before walking away and exiting the store.
People magazine reported Hunter had entered a guilty plea last month after Judge James Ruth told her he was ready to proceed with jury selection for the trial.
She had pleaded guilty at two earlier hearings because they didn’t include jail time but those pleas were later rejected.
In a letter to the judge, Hunter stated her daughter was alarmed by a stranger (Sprague) filming her and her children in the store.
“Admittedly, I was immediately infuriated and demanded this customer to stop filming my kids. In the heat of the moment, I overreacted in an overprotective manner which ultimately led to my retaliation on this stranger, the victim,” Hunter wrote.
“And that highly regrettable, split-second, knee-jerk reaction has cost my family dearly.”
Hunter’s letter also included 23 pages worth of texts, e-mails, social media posts and letters showcasing harassment she and her family received because of the viral video.
The woman added the whole ordeal has humbled her.