National Guard, Stafford Act text a fake

This is a screen shot of a fake text message that has been making the rounds. It is not legitimate.

A text message being circulated to alarm residents about the National Guard is not legitimate, according to a local emergency official.

Jeff Parish, Lawrence County director of public safety, said the Pennsylvania Army National Guard does have a presence locally, but its function is not to shut down businesses and impose curfews. The military unit has been helping with drive-through testing in different areas, he said, "but they're not going to come in and shut everything down. They're here to help us, and they're a good asset."

He added that there are no curfews here.

The text message, which appears to be legitimate, is designed to incite terror and panic and advises people to run out and stock up on whatever they need to be sure they have a two-week supply of everything.

The bogus text also threatens that the president of the United States will invoke "the Stafford Act," which President Donald Trump already invoked March 13 by declaring a national emergency. It is a disaster relief and emergency assistance act, not one that orders martial law. The measure allows the federal government to make resources available for state and local governments, if needed.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday had issued an order for police, fire and city health officials to enforce the mandated shutdowns, effective Monday. On Monday afternoon he issued stay-at-home orders for Allegheny County and for Philadelphia and surrounding counties, which have had higher numbers of confirmed cases of the virus. Those are the most recent mandates that have been handed down in Pennsylvania, to date.

While there are confirmed cases in all counties surrounding Lawrence, including Mahoning County in Ohio, there were no confirmed cases in Lawrence County as of Monday afternoon.


Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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