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People intentionally spreading coronavirus could be charged with terrorism, DOJ says

Individuals who intentionally spread the novel...

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 3:44 PM

Individuals who intentionally spread the novel coronavirus could be charged with terrorism for the "purposeful exposure and infection of others," a Justice Department memo says.

Writing that the virus "appears to meet the statutory definition of a 'biological agent,' " Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in the memo to federal law enforcement agencies and US attorneys Tuesday that "such acts potentially could implicate the Nation's terrorism-related statutes."

"Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," Rosen said.

The memo underscores the aggressive steps the federal government is willing to consider -- and enact -- as the outbreak spreads across the country. The US has more than 64,000 cases of the virus and nearly 900 people have died as of Wednesday afternoon, according to CNN's tally.

"We must do the best we can to protect Americans' rights and safety in this novel and troubling time," Rosen said.

The deputy attorney general also detailed a "wide range of fraudulent and criminal" reported schemes related to the pandemic, including robocalls making fraudulent offers to sell respirator masks with no intent of delivery and fake coronavirus apps and websites that install malware.

"Capitalizing on this crisis to reap illicit profits or otherwise preying on Americans is reprehensible and will not be tolerated," Rosen wrote.

His memo comes after Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors last week to prioritize investigations of fraudsters and hackers exploiting the pandemic.

In that memo sent to US attorneys nationwide, Barr cited reports of fake cures for the virus being sold online and email scams from people posing as public health officials as crimes that "cannot be tolerated."

"The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated," Barr wrote. "It is essential that the Department of Justice remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis."

Barr also said the "critical mission" of the Justice Department will continue as the virus shuts down other pillars of American society.

"We will ensure that the Department's law enforcement functions operate effectively during this outbreak. It is vital that we work together to safeguard our justice system and thus the safety and security of our nation," he said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 597984

Reported Deaths: 10870
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2144255113
Riverside43983853
Orange42171769
San Bernardino38290555
San Diego33393608
Kern25499187
Fresno18344191
Alameda14548216
San Joaquin14276245
Sacramento13216194
Santa Clara13059207
Tulare11847205
Stanislaus11592182
Contra Costa10482151
Imperial9957257
Ventura879093
San Francisco794467
Santa Barbara708373
San Mateo6640122
Merced622474
Monterey580340
Marin558381
Kings512762
Solano441441
Sonoma385951
Madera275944
Placer248627
San Luis Obispo232418
Yolo191845
Santa Cruz13576
Butte13058
Napa114211
Sutter10417
El Dorado7932
San Benito7734
Lassen6940
Yuba6884
Mendocino48910
Shasta47610
Glenn4363
Colusa4015
Nevada3571
Tehama3051
Humboldt2994
Lake2672
Amador19810
Calaveras1611
Mono1601
Tuolumne1592
Inyo1155
Siskiyou1090
Del Norte1040
Mariposa632
Plumas380
Trinity60
Modoc50
Sierra50
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Broken Clouds
100° wxIcon
Hi: 105° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 100°
Oroville
Clear
97° wxIcon
Hi: 107° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 97°
Paradise
Broken Clouds
100° wxIcon
Hi: 99° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 100°
Chester
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 89°
Red Bluff
Clear
104° wxIcon
Hi: 108° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 104°
Willows
Broken Clouds
100° wxIcon
Hi: 108° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 100°
A dangerous heatwave will take hold of northern California today and will last through your extended forecast. Well above average high and low temperatures are expected, and there will be a chance for active weather returning to some mountains areas.
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