No, Houston is not going on ‘lockdown’ and other debunked rumors about coronavirus

HOUSTON – Amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus worldwide, Harris County health officials are seeking to debunk some of the rumors spreading online and on social media. On Ready Harris, officials have created a page to clear up some of the rumors.

“It is vital that residents rely on trusted and reliable health sources of information regarding novel coronavirus,” officials wrote. “Misinformation and rumors have spread quickly on social media, thus it may not be the most reliable source of information.”

Here are the rumors the health officials have debunked so far:

RUMOR: H-E-B is closing

That is false.

“While our customers may find our supply of some products low or temporarily out of stock, please rest assured that we’re maintaining close contact with our suppliers and our partners (employees) are working around-the-clock to keep our shelves stocked,” Lisa Helfman with H-E-B said. “We encourage customers to check back with us if they cannot find what they need, we are receiving inventory and restocking our shelves throughout the day to serve our customers.”

All cleaning and sanitation schedules have been increased and in-store sampling has been discontinued.

RUMOR: There are plans to quarantine the city

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said there have never been and plans to do so.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said a social media post claiming that only emergency and medical personnel will be allowed to leave their homes and advises people to stock up on non-perishable food items is false.

“That is not true. For the month of March, we are rescheduling or canceling events that are produced, sponsored, and permitted by the city of Houston,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The status of our grocery stores and retailers remains strong, and while it is always good to buy supplies or groceries that can last for a week or two, there is no reason for you to overdo it.”

RUMOR: Harris County and the City of Houston are closing

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said this is not true. Neither are going into “lockdown” or “closing," Hidalgo said. For the most up-to-date info, visit ReadyHarris.org.

RUMOR: It is unsafe to travel to Chinatown due to the novel coronavirus.


“There is currently no reason for residents in Harris County to take out-of-the ordinary precautions related to novel coronavirus in any Asian businesses,” officials wrote. “Businesses are safe to visit.”

Officials also reminded residents that healthy habits are key to stopping the spread of the virus and also other viruses and the flu.

RUMOR: I should wear a mask to protect myself from the novel coronavirus

This is false. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend wearing a facemask to protect oneself from respiratory viruses, including coronavirus. You can get more information on protective measures here.

RUMOR: People traveling to the US from China are spreading novel coronavirus

Officials say this is false.

“The United States government is taking unprecedented steps to prevent and control the spread of novel coronavirus in the United States. A Presidential Proclamation on novel coronavirus mandates new travel procedures. Foreign nationals, people who are citizens of any country other than the United States, who have visited China within the last 14 days are not being allowed into the U.S. United States citizens, permanent residents, and their families who have visited China within the last 14 days are being allowed to enter the United States but are being redirected to one of 11 airports for health screenings. Depending on their health and travel history, they will have some level of restrictions placed on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China. Fourteen days is the maximum incubation period for novel coronavirus."

RUMOR: The flu vaccine can protect me against novel coronavirus

This is false. Officials say the flu shot won’t protect you from coronavirus. However, since we are still in active flu season, residents are encouraged to get the flu vaccine to protect against the flu.