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FEMA has not proposed martial law to contain virus outbreak

January 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: FEMA proposes “martial law to contain coronavirus” 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency confirmed that there are no plans to enact martial law in the U.S. 

THE FACTS: In recent days, a false story circulated on social media claiming that FEMA was proposing martial law to contain the outbreak of a viral respiratory illness spreading around the world. Martial law would transfer power in the hands of the army. Martial law is military power including extending in time of war, during times of emergency. 


“This article is not true.” FEMA said in an email sent Tuesday to The Associated Press, adding that they have not advocated for martial law. 

More than 4,500 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed since the outbreak was identified last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with about 100 deaths reported by Tuesday. There are currently five confirmed cases in the U.S. 

The false claims about martial law has circulated on Facebook since Jan. 23. “Acting FEMA Director Pete Gaynor on Wednesday offered President Trump a startling solution, Martial Law in the United States, to prevent the spread of a lethal Chinese Coronavirus that infected hundreds and killed at least 17 people in the Communist nation,” the post said. 

False posts also circulated on Twitter. “Those who are ‘awake’ and aware completely understand the dormant plans for martial law and widespread FEMA detention camps in America,” a Twitter user falsely claimed.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: