Albemarle police investigate COVID-19 social media poster, confirm he does not have virus

ALBEMARLE — The Albemarle Police Department confirmed to SCJ March 19 that a Facebook Live video circulating of an individual inside the Albemarle Walmart, claiming to have the coronavirus (COVID-19), was a prank. While the man did not test positive for coronavirus, after the video was shared by many people online, the police have referred the matter to the Stanly County district attorney to determine if charges will be filed.

The Albemarle Police Department posted on their own Facebook, saying that they “have identified the individual that posted the video and referred this matter to our Criminal Investigations Division and they are actively investigating this threat. Verification with the Stanly County Health Department has confirmed that no one in Stanly County has tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

The Facebook account that created the video appeared to be that of pit bull breeder Justin Rhodes, who has since taken the video down. Rhodes had several new posts about the incident which were visible to the public, as well as evidence of a negative coronavirus test and pictures of a recent trip to Asia.

One post said: “Ohhh… btw I passed my thermal scans, hence why I was able to fly back to America 🤘🏼 I’m not showing any symptoms and I’m not infected YOU PPL BELIEVE ANYTHING FROM ANYONE y’all need to calm the f*** down 🤣🤣🤣🤣 get a sense of humor and stop crying.”

Another post told people that there was someone infected in Cabbarus County,  “Y’all worried about me and there’s ppl who actually have the virus 🦠 20 minutes down the road,” and another showed some regret, but only because of his wife receiving some of the blow back: “I hate that I did it, not bc y’all got scared, not because I no longer thought it was funny… I hate that your bringing my wife into something she had no idea and no control over 🤦‍♂️”

Albemarle P.D. thanked the public in their Facebook post for bringing it to their attention: “We want to thank everyone for notifying the Albemarle Police Department about this threat. We will keep you updated on the outcome.”