California Woman Says She Was Smacked, Spit on and Coughed at After Asking for Social Distance on Running Trail

A California woman has said she was left "shook up and scared" last weekend after being "purposely coughed on" and hit after asking a teenager to maintain social distancing.

The victim said she contacted the police after the incident, which occurred last Saturday afternoon in the Communications Hill neighborhood of San Jose. The encounter, which was partially caught on video, was described in a post published to NextDoor, local media outlet KGO reported.

In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, a shelter-in-place order is being enforced across Santa Clara County. It allows exercise outside, but only if citizens remain six feet from others. Indoor gyms and fitness centers are closed.

The woman wrote on NextDoor, an online neighborhood watch application, that she was targeted by a man after asking a teenage boy who became too close while running behind to keep his distance, per the official guidance.

She wrote: "[The boy] laughed and pushed me… Almost tripped me. Three [minutes] later, I see him coming back towards me, with the man in the video, who I assume was his father." The short video clip was later shared on Reddit.

"The man called me names, spit on me, pushed me, purposely coughed on me and then hit me. I caught some of it on video. His wife or gf [girlfriend] then smacked me in the back of my head and tried to grab my phone. All I did was ask them to keep their distance," the victim added.

A spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department told KGO officers were contacted by the woman Saturday evening shortly before 7:30 p.m. Authorities said the suspects have not yet been identified or arrested, and noted the victim did not need medical attention following the altercation.

Officers noted the victim had been slapped on the back of the head by one suspect. The San Jose Police Department has been contacted for additional comment by Newsweek.

There have been at least 375 cases of the new coronavirus in Santa Clara County, according to the government's website, which was last updated at 5 p.m. ​on March 23. At last count, 16 people in the county have lost their lives due to the disease.

Globally, there are now more than 425,000 confirmed cases and over 18,900 deaths linked to the illness. In the U.S., the third-worst affected country, there are at least 55,000 recorded infections.

"This is what this pandemic is doing to people," the runner wrote. "I am sure they are under a lot of stress, maybe lost their jobs, or something, which led them to act this way. Who knows.

"Now I'm scared to go running outside my own home. I'm a 5'2 very petite woman, I was attacked by two large people, a few people walked by, instead of helping, they laughed and continued on.

"The police came out, took the video, pictures and all info and made a report. They were very nice and helpful. I'm just so scared of how people are acting and this man and woman did this in front of their teenage kids. Great role models. I am OK, just shook up a bit and scared. Be careful out there."

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

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask 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 mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
Stock image: Runner
File photo: Close up of runner’s feet during exercise. A California woman says she was was left “shook up and scared” last weekend after being “purposely coughed on” and hit by a man after asking a teenage boy to maintain social distancing. iStock