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Coronavirus in Texas

As coronavirus sparks rumors, Houston officials dispel social media myth of a citywide lockdown

Officials say they're investigating whoever is behind the misinformation campaign, which they say only creates anxiety and fear.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks with the media after arriving at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on...

Coronavirus in Texas

Get the latest updates on coronavirus in Texas here. At least 90 Texans’ deaths have been linked to COVID-19, and at least 5,330 people have been diagnosed with the disease. Hospitals are adding more beds, while medical professionals and state leaders are urging Texans to socially distance themselves from others. The state is testing thousands of people a day, but it is often taking longer than a week for Texans to get those results. Learn more about how to get tested here. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Texans are without work as unemployment claims overload the state’s systems. And schools across the state are closed at least until May 4.  

 

 

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Houston officials announced an investigation Friday into messages posted on social media falsely claiming the city is going into a lockdown this weekend to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

"All of that is untrue," Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference. "I do believe it is a crime, and we should investigate it and find these perpetrators, these actors, and prosecute them."

While schools, bars and restaurant dining rooms have been shuttered statewide, including in Houston, there aren't any instances of local or state officials issuing shelter-in-place orders. California this week issued such an order, which generally keeps people in their homes, though they are allowed to go out for essential trips, like getting groceries or going to the bank, according to Wired.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said it is likely that "hostile foreign governments" are behind the misinformation campaign.

"A lot of this, if not most of it, is being driven by hostile governments that are intentionally trying to spread pandemonium and fear," Acevedo said.

Acevedo referred to previous instances of foreign entities spreading anxiety and fear through misinformation, including a 2015 military training exercise that conspiracy theorists speculated was a covert effort to institute martial law. A former CIA director later said hysteria over the exercise, Jade Helm 15, was fueled by Russians.

Both the Houston Police Department and the Harris County district attorney's office will be involved in the investigation, Turner said.

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