Photo: Melanie Nicole Chambers
AL.com in Alabama has a story related to Covid-19 and its attendant restrictions –
“An Andalusia woman is behind bars after police say she violated the stay-at-home order and then coughed in an officer’s face while mentioning COVID-19.
Police were called to Brewton Street Monday night on a report of loud music, said Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson. When they arrived, they found about 40 to 50 people at a party, as well as the odor of marijuana.
Officers made contact with 39-year-old Melanie Nicole Chambers who currently rents the Brewton Street house. She was hosting the birthday party for one of her children and got hot when officers arrived to break it up, Hudson said.
“She got a little upset with the officers because they were there,’’ Hudson said. “She got irate and told them they needed to worry about other things.”
She asked the crowd gathered at her home if anyone had coronavirus, and then deliberately coughed on an officer.
Officers obtained a search warrant and found marijuana and drug paraphernalia at the home. The Covington County Sheriff’s Office and the area’s drug task force assisted. As a result, Chambers was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of the state health officer’s current suspension of gatherings due to COVID-19. Chambers’ total bond is set at $23,500.
Hudson said the arrest marked the first time the department has charged someone with violation of the state’s stay-at-home order. “We are handling this on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “If participants refuse to comply with the order, we have to take steps to enforce it.”
Though there is a criminal charge of assault with a bodily fluid, Hudson said Chambers’ actions didn’t meet the criteria. Still, he said, it’s just one of many concerns officers face while doing their job during the pandemic.
Covington County has roughly two dozen reported COVID-19 cases including one death. Because of healthcare privacy laws, Hudson said they have no way of knowing who has tested positive for the virus.
“We may deal with them and never know,’’ he said. “I really commend the way the officers handled this. They could have lost their cool which would have made it a loss worse than it was.”