Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed some of the many social media rumors circulating about the state's coronavirus response and sought to put them to rest once and for all Friday.
"There have been a lot of rumors circulating around that are completely inaccurate," he said. "Rumors that there's going to be martial law that's going to be imposed, that we've called out the guard or the military somehow to impose their will upon the state of Illinois. Those are all false. I want people to take a deep breathe."
Pritzker said that while the rumors are largely spread on social media, there's also "an effort by the Chinese government and the Russian government to feed into that paranoia that people have about what's going on."
Illinois isn't alone in battling such rumors.
The governor of New York has been asked if he would impose martial law in the state, and has denied it repeatedly.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed the denials of such rumors Friday after a stay-at-home order was issued for the state of Illinois.
"I want to say- to be clear, this is not a lockdown, it's not martial law," she said. "There's absolutely no need to change your normal purchasing habits. Please, the grocery stores will remain open and stocked. So please be mindful of your neighbors and do not hoard. Remember this is the new normal, for now."
Meanwhile, the Illinois National Guard took to social media Thursday to dispel rumors that it was coming to the Chicago area to enforce a coronavirus quarantine after video began circulating showing a train carrying military vehicles moving through some suburbs.
"There are a lot of rumors going around about the Illinois National Guard being activated to enforce a quarantine in Chicago or other areas of the state. Some even have video of a train moving military equipment near the city," they wrote on Facebook. "We confirmed with our logistics officer that we haven't had trains moving Illinois National Guard equipment through Chicago in more than a month. These are not our vehicles. The military moves equipment all the time. This has nothing to do with COVID-19 response."
Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard earlier this week to help with the state’s response to the novel coronavirus. As of Thursday, the number of statewide cases had topped 400.
"The majority of these (about 45) are medical with the mission of setting up a drive-through screening site. The rest are planners, including medical planners, and liaison officers," the National Guard wrote. "We have liaison officers embedded with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health. There has been NO discussion of using the Illinois National Guard to enforce a quarantine. There has been discussion of transportation, food distribution, construction (renovating mothballed hospitals to make them functional again or building temporary hospital space) and a few other missions - but nothing about quarantining the city of Chicago or shutting down highways or any of the other wild rumors that have been circulating!"
Many social media users started sharing old videos of similar trains moving through the area in previous years for context as well.
"People are understandably anxious about coronavirus. We will let people know as troops are activated for additional missions," the organization wrote. "Please remember, the National Guard is a community-based organization. We are your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, your co-workers - we are you. We're all in this together and we'll get through it together. Stay safe!"