A Florida mother was arrested Thursday after video of her daughter licking a tongue depressor and putting it back at a Jacksonville medical center went viral.
According to Action News Jax, 30-year-old Cori Ward was arrested and charged with tampering with a consumer product without regard for possible death or bodily injuries. The charge is a felony that carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to the report.
In the video which was originally posted to Snapchat and then shared to Facebook, a hand is seen reaching into the jar of wooden tongue depressors and taking one. Then, the woman’s daughter licks the tongue depressor and puts it back into the jar.
A signseen above the jar reads, “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH MEDICAL SUPPLIES! THANK YOU!”
Ward captioned her Snapchat video, “Don’t tell me how to live my life.”
In an interview with Action News Jax before her arrest, Ward said she regretted her actions.
“I mean honestly I wasn’t thinking,” Ward told Action News Jax Wednesday. “I know what it’s like to, you know, have to worry about your kids’ health and stuff. I would never put somebody else’s kid at risk.”
But Ward also said the video didn’t tell the whole story, claiming to have removed the contaminated materials after the camera stopped rolling.
“I removed the items that were even surrounding it,” the Florida woman said.
Ward also apologized to anyone affected by her actions.
“I’m sorry for anyone that its offended,” Ward said. “It should have never been taken this far.”
“I know what it’s like to, you know, have to worry about your kids health and stuff. I would never put somebody else’s kid at risk,” she added.
Ward is set to appear in Court on Friday.
In a statement Thursday, the medical center where the incident took place condemned Ward’s actions and assured patients any contaminated materials were removed from the exam room.
“This type of behavior is not tolerated at All About Kids and Families Medical Center,” the statement said. “Each year, we serve thousands of patients, and providing quality care and ensuring their safety is our top priority.”
The origins of the licking challenge
The incident is just the latest in a bizarre new trend of videos, popular among teens and millennials, that feature people licking various items. The viral craze gained national attention after footage of a Texas woman licking a tub of ice cream and putting it back at a Walmart was widely disseminated on social media. She was later arrested and may be charged with tampering with a consumer product, a second-degree felony charge carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison. The viral video prompted imitators to create their own vile versions, and a second man was arrested for doing the same thing in a Louisiana store.
Dr. Sunil Joshi, an allergist and immunologist not associated with the office shown in the video, told Action News Jax that such stunts can have serious health consequences.
“This is how viral infection spreads, right, through respiratory droplets – and here you’re putting saliva on a tongue depressors that you’re putting straight into someone’s mouth,” Joshi said.
Meanwhile, many on social media have expressed their disgust at the trend.
When I am dictator, anyone caught licking ice cream at the grocery store will be shot on sight. Also anyone who touches produce and puts it back, or takes too long in the self-checkout, or leaves their shopping cart in the parking lot, or uses more than 2 coupons.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) July 9, 2019
Some have even gone as far as to view the licking challenge as an indictment on the current generation of young people.
I remember years ago challenges were actually real challenges that could not make anybody felons, “ice bucket” “Mannequin challenge” but now this generation nowadays licking ice cream & putting it back y’all crazy crazy and nasty nasty!! pic.twitter.com/m0xTNBB3Ls
— Am 🦁 (@AmariahTwelve) July 11, 2019
“I remember years ago challenges were actually real challenges that could not make anybody felons, ‘ice bucket’ ‘Mannequin challenge’ but now this generation nowadays licking ice cream & putting it back y’all crazy crazy and nasty nasty!!” wrote one commenter.