After photos and videos of armored military vehicles being moved through Southern California started popping up online with claims that the sight was related to the coronavirus pandemic, officials took to Twitter to quash the rumors and explain it was only routine movement.
The images showed hundreds of tank-like vehicles being hauled on a train over the past week, with some social media users tying the movement to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s deployment of the California National Guard to assist with COVID-19 aid efforts.
But the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department explained on Tuesday that “tanks on train cars” are not related to the state’s efforts to fight the pandemic. The vehicles appear to be Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
“Just our brave service members moving equipment… There is no reason to be alarmed,” the Sheriff’s Department said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva have both emphasized that the National Guard troops haven’t officially been mobilized in the county — and that any help they provide would be humanitarian in nature.
That includes helping distribute supplies at food banks and assisting with transporting patients, according to the sheriff.
“Any logistical movements at Port Hueneme and Naval Air Station Point Mugu are just routine in nature to keep America’s deployed forces ready,” Naval Base Ventura County said Tuesday in a tweet accompanied by photos of the tanks on the train.
Naval Base Ventura County said it “continues to support the Department of Defense in routine air and port operations.”
As more coronavirus cases are reported throughout California, stoking fears in communities that have already seen their lives upended by the virus, officials have been warning residents about scams and misinformation. Those posts have ranged from fake coronavirus tests and cures to false claims of law enforcement fining people for ignoring stay-at-home orders.
“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,” the Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter. “Spreading false rumors during this time does no good.”