Iowa Woman Drove to Police Station, Asked Officers to Test Her Methamphetamine for Coronavirus, Cops Say

Shawn Salmon, a 53-year-old woman in Sioux City, Iowa, has been charged with the unlawful possession of a controlled substance after she allegedly drove to the Sioux City Police Department on Sunday afternoon and asked police to examine a bag of methamphetamines for coronavirus.

On April 5 at 1:03 p.m., Salmon drove her 2016 grey Chevy Silverado truck to the police station and showed "signs of impairment" like erratic behavior, paranoia and profuse sweating. She then asked police to examine her drugs for COVID-19. She consented to a search of her body and vehicle, and police found a 14.4-gram bag of meth, a bag of cannabis and "a large amount of paraphernalia" for ingesting drugs.

The woman then consented to a drug test and was immediately taken into custody and jailed. Newsweek has contacted the Sioux City Police Department for more information about the arrest. The department had not responded by the time of publication.

While the woman's inquiry might seem odd, 20 police departments around the U.S. have published misinformation on Facebook warning people, "If you have recently purchased Meth, it may be contaminated with the Corona Virus," according to The Washington Post.

The posts continue, "If you're not comfortable going into an office setting, please request any officer and they'll test your Meth in the privacy of your home. Please spread the word! We are here for you!"

While there's no indication that the Sioux City Police Department ever posted such a message on social media, police departments that have called the posts "satirical."

A police officer holds two examples of methamphetamine taken on a bust in the evidence room. Larry W. Smith/Getty

Drug traffickers say supply chains providing the chemical agents needed to make methamphetamine have been disrupted by the global pandemic, creating a shortage of the drug in the United States.

Nevertheless, meth seizures around the U.S. are surging. According to NPR, in 2018, authorities seized more than 67,000 kilograms of meth–a 142 percent increase from 2017. The purity and potency of the drug have also been increasing.

A November 2019 article by Kaiser Health News stated that law enforcement officers often have trouble determining whether agitated people are on methamphetamine or have other mental health issues like paranoid schizophrenia, making it difficult for police to respond accordingly.

According to an article in Frontiers of Psychiatry, both meth and schizophrenia can distort a person's auditory and visual perceptions, giving them disorganized speech and delusions. Police officers aren't often trained enough in mental health to know the differences between the two.

The coronavirus epidemic places additional challenges on people with substance use disorders, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Meth constricts blood vessels, contributing to pulmonary damage and hypertension which could worsen coronavirus' symptoms.

Furthermore, people with substance use disorders often have a higher likelihood of being homeless, imprisoned or having no access to health care, all of which can put them at greater risk for illness and social stigma.