Alabama Woman Hosted Party and Coughed in Officer's Face While Talking About Coronavirus, Police Say

An Alabama woman was arrested after she violated the state's stay-at-home order by throwing a party. The woman then coughed in an officer's face while speaking about coronavirus, police said.

Officers responded to a report about loud music on Brewton Street in Andalusia on Monday night.

In a news release, Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson said that officers discovered a party taking place at the house with up to 50 people in attendance. "When officers arrived, they found a party of about 40 to 50 people," Hudson said. "They also smelled an odor of marijuana."

Officers discovered Melanie Nicole Chambers, who was renting the home, hosting a birthday party for one of her children, according to AL.com.

Chambers, 39, became angry when officers arrived to break up the gathering, Hudson said.

Alabama clinic
Exterior view of the Baptist Health Coronavirus Care Clinic on March 23, 2020 in Montgomery, Alabama. Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Chambers asked the crowd of people at her home if anyone had coronavirus and then deliberately coughed on an officer, according to AL.com.

After police obtained a search warrant, they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia at the home. Chambers was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was also charged with violating the state health officer's current suspension of gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hudson said Chambers was the first person the Andalusia Police Department has charged with violating Alabama'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."

According to AL.com, Hudson said Chambers' actions toward the officer didn't meet the criteria for a charge of assault with bodily fluid.

Hudson also commended the officers for their handling of the incident. "Three officers initially responded, and they did a good job of keeping order and getting back-up," he said.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a statewide stay-at-home order earlier this month, effective until April 30. The state has 5,327 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 186 deaths, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

This infographic, provided by Statista, shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the U.S. as of April 21.

This article has been updated with information from the Andalusia Police Department.

Statista
This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the U.S. as of April 21. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.