The Coronavirus has affected many different regions (China, Italy, Spain, the U.S. to name a few), but Asian-American state lawmakers, local officials and public health professionals in Massachusetts said that their communities are taking racist hits as a result, and they took to the State House on March 12 to condemn the false narrative, the Associated Press reports.
“This is not an Asian-American virus, this is not a Chinese virus,” said Elisa Choi, who heads the Massachusetts chapter of the American College of Physicians, according to the AP. “There is nothing inherent in us as Asian-Americans that makes us carriers of this virus.”
The leaders reportedly highlighted recent bias attacks against Asians in London and New York City, while also noting that news organizations that erroneously connected Asians to the virus. While Massachusetts’ Suffolk County district attorney Rachael Rollins told the AP her office hadn’t received complaints from the local Asian-American community about a rise in crime, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo opened an investigation on March 11 into an assault against an Asian-American woman.
“I am disgusted to hear that a woman of Asian descent was physically assaulted in Manhattan on Tuesday—an attack apparently motivated by the bigoted notion that an Asian person is more likely to carry or transmit the novel coronavirus,” Cuomo said in a press release. “This incident was not only despicable but also illegal, and I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation to make sure the assailant is held accountable.”
Cuomo isn’t alone in his disgust. The day before he made his announcement, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted her own rebuke of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) recent tweet calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”
Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website: https://t.co/nGCCDVqcqe— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 9, 2020
“Bigoted statements which spread misinformation and blame Asians and the Asian American community for #coronavirus make us all less safe. @GOPLeader must delete this tweet and apologize immediately,” Pelosi tweeted.
Last month, to try and help struggling businesses and low-income workers in Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh launched the #LoveBostonChinatown campaign and released a video of him dining in the city’s Chinatown on Twitter.