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State border closure ‘just a rumor’

Officials: No plans for interstate travel ban

Despite rumors, there are no plans to close the state’s borders.

Over the weekend, social media was rife with unconfirmed stories that the State of Ohio was planning to shut down the bridges and not allow travel into Kentucky and West Virginia in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Dan Tierney, the press secretary for the Office of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shot down the rumor in an email on Monday morning.

“Anything like this would be announced at our daily briefing, and major orders have had a day or two of lead time,” he wrote. “So, if you have not heard it at our briefing, it is just a rumor.”

On Sunday, county agencies were posting on social media trying to quell the rumor.

“State-level officials in our neighboring states of Kentucky and West Virginia have confirmed that BRIDGES ACROSS THE OHIO RIVER WILL NOT BE CLOSED,” the Lawrence County Commissioners posted on Facebook. “Officials in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia have released no plans to impose border restrictions between states.”

Michael Boster, director of the Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency, put out a Facebook post under the heading of “Rumors. Rumors. Rumors.” And the second line was a request for everyone to please stop and that the rumors are “simply not true.”

I have noticed lots of unconfirmed information being tossed around carelessly on social media. Please don’t do that,” Boster wrote. “Unless you hear orders from official sources, like the governor, for example, you should not spread false information. You need to verify each piece of information to ensure it is factual before posting and/or sharing the “I heard this, or I was told that…’”

He wrote that Gov. DeWine had been very forthcoming in his press conferences about what to do

“While we cannot know what future actions he will need to order to mitigate this emergency, there has been NO indication that Ohio’s borders will be closed-including bridges that cross the Ohio River,” Boster wrote. “Though we tend to focus on West Virginia and Kentucky from Lawrence County, the State of Ohio has different border states in every direction, and they do not all involve a river and bridges.”

Boster said he had talked with his counterparts in Kentucky and West Virginia and that they also confirmed that they had no information about closing the borders.

“I have answered numerous questions about travel and bridge closings and tried to address statements and posts that simply are not true,” Boster said. “Our county elected officials have not been given any indications that inter-state travel will be interrupted by travel restrictions.”