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Saturday, March 28, 2020

President Trump claims invoking the Stafford Act to quarantine

The claim: President Trump will invoke the Stafford Act to order a national, mandatory two-week quarantine 

A recent viral post on Facebook claims that the president of the United States would enact a mandatory quarantine using a law called the Stafford Act. "The president will evoke what is called the Stafford act," Facebook user Jasmine Morgan wrote on March 16. "The president will order a two week mandatory quarantine for the nation." 

Morgan also stated that the information came from sources in the military. The post has been shared more than 400 times. USA TODAY reached out to Morgan about her post but she did not respond to multiple messages.

Similar Facebook posts, as well as viral WhatsApp and text messages, have echoed the rumor. The claims in the messages are not true; President Donald Trump already used the Stafford Act to declare a national emergency on March 13, before the viral post was made. More importantly, the Stafford Act does not allow the federal government to impose mandatory quarantines.

The Stafford Act

On March 13, Trump declared a national emergency under the 1988 Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Under the Stafford Act, about $40 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency can be used by the federal government to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It does not permit the president to unilaterally declare a nationwide quarantine. Even if the Stafford Act did provide for mandatory quarantines, it would likely be unconstitutional.

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