Trump administration officials warned the public on Monday that a foreign disinformation campaign is trying to incite panic over a non-existent national lockdown over coronavirus.
An unnamed “senior official” told Fox News that “there is an ongoing effort to spread disinformation and cause undue panic” among U.S. citizens, but confirmed, “there is no national quarantine for the United States.” Now, more than ever, “it’s important we remain vigilant in ensuring our information is coming from verified sources,” they said.
The Associated Press received similar communication from the White House, warning of “a deliberate effort by a foreign entity to sow fears of a nationwide quarantine amid the virus outbreak.” These officials also spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to name the source of the campaign.
On Sunday, the National Security Council tweeted: “Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown,” and encouraged Americans to pay attention to CDC guidance instead.
— NSC (@WHNSC) March 16, 2020
The Pentagon has already reprimanded the Chinese government for spreading “false and absurd conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 blaming U.S. service members.”
On Sunday, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was the victim of a cyberattack that appears to have been directly aimed at slowing down the federal department’s coronavirus response operations. The aggressor then, too, remained unidentified.
“U.S. officials have not yet confirmed who was behind the HHS hacking. The hack yesterday involved overloading the HHS servers with millions of hits over several hours,” Bloomberg learned from unnamed sources.
At his Monday press briefing, even President Donald Trump alluded to foreign powers “playing games” with coronavirus information. He confirmed that there were no nationwide travel restrictions and that even domestic travel continues as normal, aside from screenings. Still, he told Americans that he and the experts are “talking about it every day.”