The Department of Public Safety in Newark, New Jersey, warned residents that they could be prosecuted if they spread disinformation about the coronavirus on social media.
The official social media account of the department posted the warning on Twitter:
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose explained further in a statement released on Tuesday.
"Any false reporting of the coronavirus in our city will result in criminal prosecution," said Director Ambrose.
"We are putting forth every investigative effort to identify anyone making false allegations on social media to ensure that any posted misinformation is immediately addressed," he explained.
Ambrose said that the department would rely on laws in New Jersey that ban speech causing false public alarm.
"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," he continued.
The spread of the coronavirus globally has caused much chaos, but some critics, like Dr. Drew Pinsky, say the media is guilty of spreading hysteria and panic when people can take simple steps to stop the virus.