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Americans who intentionally spread coronavirus could face federal terrorism charges

Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C. in July 2012. (Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons)

Top law enforcement officials are considering how to handle the spread of coronavirus if done so intentionally.

Justice Department officials said in a memo obtained by Politico that those who purposefully expose and infect others with COVID-19 could face criminal charges under federal terrorism statues.

“Because Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a ‘biological agent’ … such acts potentially could implicate the Nation’s terrorism-related statutes,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said wrote in a memo to U.S. Attorneys and others in law enforcement. “Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated.”

He did not specify if threats of intentional spread have been made.

There have been at least 53,204 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. At least 163 people were reported dead in the U.S. on Tuesday – the highest single-day reported deaths – bringing the death toll above 700.

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The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Massachusetts increased to 11 on Tuesday.

Overall, the number of COVID-19 cases spiked by 382 from Monday to Tuesday, with the DPH reporting a total of 1,159 cases on Tuesday. The 382 new cases were a significant increase over the 131 new cases reported on Monday and represent by far the highest single-day total of new cases.

Statewide, there have been 13,749 people tested for the virus.

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© 2020 MassLive.com