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Combative hospital patient allegedly coughs on officers after testing for COVID-19

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Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 15:42:13-04

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — A Hagerstown man is accused of purposely coughing on a sheriff's deputy and security guard after undergoing testing for COVID-19.

It happened on March 24 around 4:30 PM, in the emergency room at Meritus Medical Center in Washington County.

Michael Palani Smith, 32, had reportedly been tested for COVID 19 before going to the hospital and became combative with staff and security when asked to wear a protective bandana.

The Washington County Sheriff's says a deputy at the hospital went to assist. Smith allegedly yelled that he didn’t care if he infected others because no one cares about him. During the struggle, Smith reportedly pulled the bandana down and forcefully coughed several times in the direction of the deputy and security officer.

Smith continued being combative and tried hurting himself after being moved to another room before medical staff could finally gain control.

Luckily the deputy was wearing personal protective equipment including a face mask, gloves, and glasses during the incident.

On Wednesday Smith was served a warrant charging him with a count of Threat of Mass Violence and two counts of first degree assault. He was also given a criminal summons for two counts of second degree assault.

Smith is currently being held without bail at the Washington County Detention Center.