Video of a woman coughing on another customer inside of a New York bagel store has gone viral after the two women got into an argument over wearing a face mask in public.
Ally Goodbaum, who was inside the bagel store on June 6, noticed the woman “was coughing, not covering her mouth, and not wearing a mask,” according to Goodbaum’s Facebook post.
Another person inside the store recorded the subsequent argument after Goodbaum asked one of the employees to ensure customers wear masks inside the establishment.
The woman, identified as Lauren Balsamo by her former employer Weill Cornell Medicine, apparently overheard the conversation, “became enraged” and started to yell at Goodbaum. Balsamo claimed she had COVID-19 antibodies and did not need to wear a mask in public.
She continued to yell obscenities at Goodbaum and told her to “say it to her face” before moving toward Goodbaum and coughing loudly on her.
Weill Cornell Medicine released a statement on Instagram and condemned Balsamo’s actions inside the bagel store:
“Weill Cornell Medicine condemns the actions recently exhibited by a former employee in a video circulating on social media,” the statement read. “This person has not been an employee of WCM since January of this year. Given our commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers and fighting on the frontlines of treating COVID patients, we are steadfast in our public health commitment to further prevention and spread through social distancing, wearing masks, frequent hand-washing and other health precautions.”
The video posted to Goodbaum’s Facebook page has garnered tens of thousands of views.“I share this to say please choose kindness in these situations. Look out for one another like patrons who took this video and asked if I was okay,” the post read.
A simple conversation can produce thousands of oral fluid droplets that can be dispersed to a fairly large radius and can linger in the air for up to 14 minutes, and in some instances even longer, researchers suggested in a recent study that may help answer key questions regarding the high transmissibility of the novel coronavirus. According to the report, which was first published in the peer-reviewed journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in May, it is commonly known that respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 can spread through droplets that are produced from coughing or sneezing.
With social distancing still the best known weapon for containing the the virus, several studies have been conducted regarding the transmission of respiratory droplets. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that COVID-19 is known to spread through droplets in the air.
The findings from the studies have prompted the CDC to recommended that people keep a minimum of six feet apart from someone who may be sick with COVID-19. The CDC has also urged Americans to wear masks while in public.
One study conducted by researchers at MIT in March warned that droplets of the novel coronavirus could travel as far as 27 feet.
The CDC released its coronavirus safety guidelines June 12, along with a second set for organizing and attending big gatherings such as concerts, sporting events, protests and political rallies as states reopen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In the guidance, the CDC encourages people to call ahead to restaurants and nail salons to make sure staff are wearing face coverings. The CDC's director, Dr. Robert Redfield, called his agency's new guidelines “common sense suggestions.” State or local governments may want to reimpose stricter measures if new outbreaks occur, but that's a call for them to make, CDC officials said.
The CDC offers a list of questions people should consider before going out, and some things to think about in particular situations. The guidelines also repeated earlier advice about wearing face coverings, especially if it’s difficult to keep at least six feet away from other people. The guidelines also encourage washing hands for 20 seconds and staying home as much as possible.
The Associated Press and Storyful contributed to this report.