The Justice Department sent a memo to federal prosecutors advising them they can charge people who intentionally spread coronavirus as terrorists. Officials said that COVID-19 could be considered a "biological agent" under the law and that anybody who spreads or threatens to spread the virus, could be charged under federal terrorism statutes.
Depending on the severity of the specific charges, a person could spend anywhere from ten years to life in federal prison if convicted. If prosecutors can prove that a person died as a direct result of somebody intentionally spreading COVID-19, they could face the death penalty.
The news of the memo comes after a New Jersey man was hit with state-level charges of making a terroristic threat for allegedly coughing on a grocery store worker and claiming he was infected with COVID-19. If convicted, he could face up to five years behind bars.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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