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No evidence to support claim Virginia governor violated his stay-at-home order

April 22, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam violated his stay-at-home order to travel to his vacation home in North Carolina. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Northam’s office says he has not left the state since the order went into place in March. Checks by a Republican senator in Virginia have found no evidence he has left the state since the order went into effect.

THE FACTS: Social media users began sharing posts Tuesday night before Virginia’s General Assembly reconvened Wednesday, claiming the the governor had snuck off with his family to their North Carolina vacation home.

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Posts online suggested that the governor had escaped to Manteo, North Carolina, part of the Outer Banks. 

“Northam is abandoning his duties in Richmond during a time of emergency so that he can travel unnecessarily to spend his time in leisure at his families vacation home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina,” one post online said. 

Alena Yarmosky, press secretary for Northam, said in an email that the governor has remained in Virginia. 

“Gov. Northam has been working on behalf of Virginians seven days a week and has not left the Commonwealth since stay-home orders went into place,” she said. “Anything else is a lie. People spread lies all the time for political gain, and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Virginia Sen. Amanda Chase, a Republican, posted a video on her Facebook page on Tuesday questioning whether the governor was in the Outer Banks. 

“Governor Northam sighted in Manteo, NC aka the Outer Banks during HIS stay at home order???” she posted. 

She clarified the comment on Wednesday saying that her office was looking into the situation but initial checks had found nothing to support he had left the state.  

“The people that I have looking into this are finding that this claim is unfounded,” she said in a video on Facebook. 

Northam tweeted about the General Assembly recovening Wednesday. 

’The General Assembly is meeting right now to vote on dozens of important bills, including several of my amendments that provide additional support to Virginia renters, homeowners, families, and small businesses during the #COVID19 pandemic,” he said. 

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Northam announced a stay-at-home order on March 30 for his state. It is scheduled to last until June 10. Protesters demonstrated in Richmond on Wednesday demanding that the governor reopen the economy. 

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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: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536

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