On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced that Americans should “Avoid gathering in groups in more than 10 people.”
That statement by the president came on the heels of closures of bars and restaurants set to begin tonight across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The two concurrent events have prompted the UK paper The Sun, and other foreign press outlets to FALSELY report that Trump is considering “shutting down the US with a national curfew.”
However, according to the White House, there are no such plans, and this is a deliberate “disinformation” campaign, as a reaction to Trump’s European travel ban. A senior administration official has told the US press that it is imperative to ensure the information about the novel coronavirus is coming from verified outlets.
“There is an ongoing effort to spread disinformation and cause undue panic,” the official told Fox News, specifically referring to the rumors of a nationwide quarantine. “There is no national quarantine for the United States.”
The official added, “It’s important we remain vigilant in ensuring our information is coming from verified sources.”
The Associated Press reported that federal officials are describing the disinformation as part of a deliberate effort by a foreign entity to sow fears inside the U.S., though they did not specify which foreign entity may be involved.
The White House National Security Council took public steps to tamp down rumors, tweeting late Sunday that “Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE.”
“There is no national lockdown,” the NSC tweeted. “@CDCgov has and will continue to post the latest guidance on #COVID19. #coronavirus.”
Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli also weighed in Monday, warning against “serious” disinformation.
“Hey folks, we’re not shutting down the United States,” Cuccinelli tweeted Monday. “Lots of serious mis-information being peddled out there!”