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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Saturday shot down rumors of a potential national lockdown because of the coronavirus, saying that there are no such plans and that such rumors are “disinformation.”
“It’s simply not true,” Wolf said on Fox & Friends. “What we see is a lot of disinformation campaigns via text, via social media, so we want to make sure we refute those, knock those down… a lot of this information is just that: disinformation.”
A number of states, including New York, California and Illinois, have issued “stay-at-home” orders, as part of the effort to combat the spread of the virus. Such moves have stoked rumors that such policies could be enacted nationwide by the federal government.
Some of those rumors include the claim that martial law would be invoked with the assistance of the National Guard — but they are false, Wolf said.
“We want to make sure that individuals are getting information from trusted sources, so those are your state and federal officials, and we’re asking them not to spread this information around,” he said.
“So we have no plans for a national lockdown or a national quarantine, and again it’s just that — its disinformation.”
Other officials had also stepped up to shoot down the rumors on Friday.
“I hear unfounded rumors about #NationalGuard troops supporting a nationwide quarantine,” tweeted Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “Let me be clear: There has been no such discussion.”
Many people across the U.S. reported receiving text messages warning of martial law, prompting authorities to assure residents the messages were fake. U.S. defense officials have warned that foreign bad actors could use this uncertain time to plant bad rumors in order to panic the American public.
Governors across the country continue to deploy Guard troops in response to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 3,000 have been activated in nearly 30 states to help with efforts to contain the outbreak.
Troops in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Michigan, among other states, are supporting relief efforts. Their mission includes disinfecting public spaces, distributing food, assisting with transportation and logistical support of health officials, and collecting and delivering samples, the Guard said in a news release.
At the national level, the administration has taken a number of actions to restrict entry into the U.S. as part of the effort to curb the virus’ spread. On Friday, the administration announced restrictions on non-essential travel at the borders with Mexico and Canada.
The U.S. currently has more than 19,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 260 deaths.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.