Coronavirus

The Woman Who Went Viral for Intentionally Coughing on Shoppers Is From Scottsdale

Screenshots from the video.
Screenshots from the video. via Twitter


A viral video of a woman deliberately coughing on masked shoppers at a Nebraska grocery store while laughing and calling them “sheep” has a perhaps-not-altogether-surprising local angle: the woman appears to be from Scottsdale.

It took amateur sleuths just a few days to identify the woman as Janene Hoskovec — a longtime Scottsdale resident, at least according to her social media.

In the video, which was first posted Sunday on Reddit, Hoskovec approaches a mother and daughter in the produce section of a Super Saver. The two were wearing masks (Lincoln, Nebraska, where the store is located, has a citywide mask mandate in place). She follows them, heckling them about their masks and coughing dramatically.

“You’re such sheep,” she tells them.

When another shopper asks why she isn't wearing a mask, she responds: “I’m not sick and neither are you.”

Per the original Reddit post, Hoskovec tailed the mother and daughter around the store until they left, despite attempted interventions by store employees. It was, the woman wrote in her post, a “bizarre and weird” experience.

“There were several other people around wearing masks, but for some reason she chose to pick on me and my kid,” she wrote.

Their video of the incident quickly racked up millions of views on TikTok and Twitter, a new addition to the already-robust genre of videos of people harassing mask-wearers by coughing on them.

The video also caught the attention of two online activists that have made a habit of identifying right-wingers in such videos: Danesh, known by his handle “thatdaneshguy,” and the TikTok user “Guilt.” The two spent hours sifting through profiles and activity in Nebraska-based anti-mask groups on Facebook. Eventually, they stumbled on Hoskovec’s profile, then linked her to Arizona.

“It was definitely on the easier end of people we’ve found,” Guilt told New Times.

The two posted her name on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning it was a trending hashtag.

According to Hoskovec’s LinkedIn page, she currently works in Tempe at the Arizona branch of SAP, a German software company.

On Wednesday morning, SAP put out a brief statement on Twitter, apparently in reference to the incident:

“The health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work are of utmost concern to us,” it reads. “We are taking the matter of an SAP employee incident very seriously and investigating the situation.”

When New Times inquired about Hoskovec, an SAP spokesperson said that the company had no further comment aside from the Twitter post and declined to answer any questions. It's still unclear if charges have been filed against Hoskovec for the incident (others who have harassed mask-wearers via coughing have served jail time).

Hoskovec did not respond to New Times’ requests for comment.

UPDATE: SAP says she's no longer with the company as of Wednesday. 
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. She previously reported for VTDigger and the Indypendent.
Contact: Katya Schwenk