TRI-CITIES, WA - As the Coronavirus makes it way across the nation and city wide lock downs begin, the internet and even text messages are spreading false Martial law rumors.
Many viewers and social media users reported receiving a text message saying Martial law is coming, and to stock up on a "two weeks supply" of things you will need. People thought it was real, and soon it went viral.
The National Security Council says those text messages are completely false.
Yes, the Coronavirus is here-- but martial law is not. We have all heard of martial law, but how exactly does it work? Who has the authority to call it to action?
Martial law is when ordinary laws are thrown out and the military steps in, especially during a national emergency. The President, State Governors and even county Sheriffs can enact martial law.
Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher says national and local lock downs are a health precaution- not martial law.
"No. No. I have no indication of that [Martial law] what so ever. All we are doing is trying to ask for volunteer cooperation from the citizens to, ya know for the furtherment and interest of public safety. We don’t want people to get this [Corona] virus," he said.
When Martial law is in place all civil liberties and free speech are no longer protected, in simple terms, the government has the authority.
But Martial law is not common, nationally it was only used once during the Civil War.
Hatcher says for now the Coronavirus may continue to change the way we go about our lives, "this has been unprecedented for all of us," he said.
When asked about whether he thinks officials will enact Martial law in the near future, Hatcher says his team continually plugs into the White House and Martial law is extremely unlikely.
"I would be highly surprised. I saw some of the facebook posts and the rumors, but there is no indication of that at this point," he told us.
Political Science experts say the best way to stay informed during these trying times is by following qualified news agencies, government websites and official government social media accounts.
Fact checking is crucial and together we can avoid the spread of misinformation. Today and always It’s really important to qualify the information we receive before we share it.
For more information on how to spot fake stories and fact check see the links below: