Newark, New Jersey, Threatens ‘Criminal Prosecution’ For ‘False Reporting On The Coronavirus’

ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Newark, New Jersey, announced Tuesday evening that it will criminally prosecute those who spread false information about the novel coronavirus on social media.

The city’s Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose made the announcement as the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world. He said that the city is “putting forth every investigative effort to identify anyone making false allegations on social media.”

“Any false reporting of the coronavirus in our city will result in criminal prosecution,” according to Ambrose. “Individuals who make any false or baseless reports about the coronavirus in Newark can set off a domino effect that can result in injury to residents and visitors and affect schools, houses of worship, businesses, and entire neighborhoods.”

New Jersey “has laws regarding causing a false public alarm,” Ambrose added. Newark plans to begin enforcing these laws with regards to news around the novel coronavirus. A 69-year-old man became the state’s first coronavirus death Tuesday.

The number of known coronavirus cases exceeded 1,000 Tuesday, according to a continuously-updated map from the New York Times. There have been at least 31 deaths in the U.S. from the virus, the NYT reported.