Andrew McCullough
Andrew McCullough
February 26, 2021

The Meme That Defined an Era: The Cortland Cronk Story

Cortland Cronk | Photo submitted by Cortland Cronk to CBC

On October 24, 2020, Cortland Cronk flew from Calgary to Saint John, where he was reportedly told not to isolate as he was an essential worker.

Cronk sells video marketing services and marijuana growth products for C&S Digital Media, a digital marketing company that lists Cortland Cronk as Founder, Photographer, and Social Media Manager. Cronk’s second company, Cronk Growth, distributes marijuana growth solutions and kits.

Upon returning to Saint John, Mr. Cronk travelled around the province for nine days, discussing his travel on social media. After being tested for the virus, he travelled to Fredericton and visited Jeff Alpaugh Custom with the goal of selling marketing services.

When Cronk’s positive Covid status was verified, Jeff Alpaugh was contacted by the province and told there was potential exposure to COVID-19 at his shop. Cronk went into self-isolation and, after multiple calls with the Department of Health, was anonymously referred to as a travel-related case. 

Cronk was instructed to limit who he revealed his diagnosis to but was outed when a friend revealed that he was COVID-positive to many others. 

Cronk chose to speak to CBC News to provide his side of the story. His CBC interview was shared widely across social media with the Atlantic Bubble, gaining traction and becoming public knowledge.

On October 31, on the Instagram account @cronkgrownutrients, Cronk is seen smoking marijuana and discussing his travels. In this video, he reveals that he can’t taste anything and doubts the existence of the virus.

“I do travel a lot for work,” Cronk says in the video, listing all the places he travelled to in the prior months, including provinces in and out of the Atlantic Bubble.

 "I'm probably the opposite of a super spreader," he said. "I had nothing to do with those events."

Shortly after the story caught media attention, satirical articles were published by The Manatee and The Independent, which further increased public awareness of Cronk’s story.

In an article for the Globe and Mail, it was revealed that Cronk plans to leave New Brunswick and doesn't know if he will ever be returning, claiming that he is facing harassment from what he calls “keyboard warriors.”


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