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DHS Secretary tweets ‘NOT TRUE’ to national lockdown rumors

President Donald J. Trump listens as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf delivers remarks at the White House Coronavirus Task Force coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Friday, March 20, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
March 21, 2020

Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf took to Twitter Friday evening to counter rumors of a nation wide lockdown over coronavirus.

Wolf alluded specifically to texts purporting to quote DHS officials and those with inside knowledge warning the department is planning a national lock down.

Wolf called on Twitter followers to ignore the circulating text rumors, and instead trust direct communications from local and federal government sources.

Wolf’s comments come amid heightened U.S. government concern of disinformation being spread about hostile actors. Last weekend, reports emerged that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suffered a cyber attack intended to slow its computer systems and spread disinformation. According to a Bloomberg report, the White House National Security Council (NSC) took to Twitter to specifically address some of the misinformation that originated from the cyber attack.

The earlier set of rumors appeared to reference an unknown sender warning that the person’s “military friends” had heard in a briefing that the “president will order a two week mandatory quarantine for the nation.”

Sources for Bloomberg assessed the earlier cyber attack and rumors likely originated from a foreign state, though they had not confirmed the claim to be true.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assessed China, Russia and Iran have all been part of efforts to spread disinformation about the virus.

“I want to talk about the disinformation that people are seeing on Twitter, around the world, some of it coming from governments, some of it coming from other individuals,” Pompeo said. “I just urge everyone as they are seeing the information — information that at one time suggested somehow this virus emanated from the United States Army — this information about lockdowns that are taking place. Every American, indeed people all around the world, should ensure that where they turn to for information is a reliable source and not a bad actor trying to create a flow of information that they know is wrong.”