Hundreds of researchers at the University of Washington have been warned to watch out for suspicious mail after the FBI informed the school that a suspicious package was sent to coronavirus scientists elsewhere.
In a Monday email obtained by BuzzFeed News, the university cited the FBI and cautioned that “threatening mail has been sent to COVID-19 researchers on the east coast” containing an “unknown substance” that the bureau was testing to determine if it was hazardous. The email, which was sent to about 500 researchers in the biological sciences, advised staff to watch out for suspect packages, including any with “oily stains, discoloration, or a strange odor.”
An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the bureau, “along with our local law enforcement partners, responded to a suspicious package sent to a few university researchers.” The spokesperson added that “preliminary testing has indicated there is no threat to public safety in connection with this mailing.”
The warning comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has become dangerously politicized, with top scientists such as Dr. Anthony Fauci receiving death threats, conspiracy theories about the virus’s origins circulating widely, people taking to the streets to protest lockdowns, and the internet deluged with reports of people reacting violently when asked to wear masks in stores and airplanes.