Rows of tanks? National Guard patrols? Police stops? Officials debunk coronavirus rumors

Richard Winton
These tanks were seen in Southern California this week. Officials say they were for routine work and not related to the coronavirus.  (Naval Base Ventura County)

Amid concerns about the coronavirus, officials are trying to debunk rumors of various types about government actions.

Tanks

The latest involved photos showing a train carrying tanks in Southern California. Naval Base Ventura County said in a tweet that the armored vehicles had nothing to do with coronavirus preparation and the movements, which included trains routed through Los Angeles, were routine.

"Any logistical movements at Port Hueneme and Naval Air Station Point Mugu are just routine in nature to keep America’s deployed forces ready," the base said.

The base said it continues to support the "Department of Defense in routine air and port operations."

National Guard

At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti stressed there were no National Guard troops in Los Angeles.

“They have armories, they travel through Los Angeles, but officially have not been mobilized,” he said.

Officials on Monday said the Guard was being used purely for humanitarian purposes:

  • Assisting in a medical supply warehouse in Sacramento
  • Working in Pacific Grove, where 19 quarantined passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise ship are staying.
  • Working at food bank facilities in Sacramento, Amador, Monterey, Riverside, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.
  • Filling in at various agencies that have seen a drop-off in volunteers because of the state’s stay-at-home order.

Policing

The Los Angeles Police Department said its officers are not stopping people for violating the city’s Safer at Home restrictions.

“We’ve heard the rumors, so let’s put an end to them. No, the LAPD is not stopping or ticketing people for exercising outdoors. Spreading false rumors during this time does no good,” tweeted the department.

Asst. Chief Horace Frank said the department is not conducting DUI checkpoints or towing or impounding cars.

Santa Monica city officials said they aren’t about to cite anyone as they seek to insure the heath of residents.

“We are not citing people. Our local order on this allows us to cite if that becomes necessary, but our focus is education,” the city said in a statement.

City Manager Rick Cole said it would be “absurd” to suggest that police there would be stopping anyone related to the order. “We are most certainly not doing that,” he said.

“The order language is standard language that gives law enforcement broad authority but given the current situation, people have a right to get exercise, go to essential jobs and perform necessary errands,” Cole said. “Our compliance efforts are focused on enforcing specific violations of the state and county orders, such as businesses that should be closed.”