Man Threatened to Sneeze on Hospital Staff After Being Asked to Wear Mask

A man has been charged after police in Iowa said he had refused to put on a mask inside a hospital and then threatened to sneeze on staff members.

Jerad Oldham was arrested at MercyOne Hospital in Newton, a city around 30 miles east of Des Moines, Iowa last week, the Newton Police Department said

According to a criminal complaint provided to Newsweek, officers arrived at the hospital shortly after 9.30 p.m. on September 15 after reports that a man was threatening staff and had damaged property valued between $100 and $150 at the hospital.

Staff told police that 40-year-old Oldham had been asked to wear a mask inside the hospital to help limit the spread of coronavirus, but he refused.

Oldham then allegedly threatened to sneeze in the face of the female staff member who had made the request, the complaint said.

He also allegedly yelled at the staff member, reportedly telling her to "step back or else someone was going to get hurt."

The staff member told officer that all attempts to de-escalate the situation had failed and she had felt the need to call police.

Oldham also allegedly used a racial slur towards a male staff member who intervened to de-escalate the situation and

"I am not doing anything you ask me to do," Oldham told the staff member, according to the complaint. 'I don't want no n***** touching me," he also said, according to the complaint.

Oldham continued issuing threats every time that employee walked past his hospital room, the complaint added. The staff member told police he feared for his safety while Oldham was in hospital.

After police were called to the hospital, Oldham was arrested and booked into the Jasper County Jail.

He is facing charges including assault on persons in certain occupations and fifth-degree criminal mischief, according to the Newton Daily News. A pre-trial hearing has been set for September 28.

The incident comes after Oldham was arrested earlier this year for blocking an intersection. According to a previous report from the Newton Daily News, police deployed a Taser on Oldham in May after he blocked traffic and refused to move from where he stood in the middle of the intersection.

When officers instructed Oldham to move toward their patrol car, he reportedly told them to shoot him. Officers ultimately used a Taser on Oldham before detaining him.

He was charged with interference with official acts and disorderly conduct-obstruct public way after that incident.

The Newton Police Department and MercyOne Hospital have been contacted for additional comment.

Iowa has more than 80,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the latest figures from the state's health department. Jasper County, where Newton is located, has 775 positive cases.

This article has been updated with additional information from Newton Police Department.

Mask
Stock photo shows a discarded medical mask. A man in Iowa was arrested after he threatened to sneeze on staff in a hospital after they asked him to put on a mask. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images