United States— Among the estimated 398 people being investigated for the Coronavirus, only 12 have been confirmed with 68 pending. Though the race for a vaccine is ongoing, a large demographic of people online have been taking controversial precautions of their own.
Since the virus has been confirmed to be transferred through human-to-human contact (as of January 20th), imagery and debates online seem to point finger at Chinese and Chinese-Americans to be a possible risk.
“Reactions seem very panicked,” said DVS junior Gavin Castillo. “[Users are] not very concerned for the people that are at risk of contracting the coronavirus.”
Countries across the globe take precautions as the virus begins to test positive in over ten countries. Within the United States, the government has now postponed all direct flights to and from China’s mainland until further notice. In heavy-traffic regions like the San Francisco Airport and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), screening has been filtered through all international travel rectors. This behavior is being replicated in other countries as well.
However, cautions and repercussions have not been limited to government authority.
“I really think that the social media has portrayed it as like there’s a deadly plague that’s kind of gonna kill us all,” responded junior Abby Wells. “Which led to the negative comments towards the Chinese people or just Asian people in general.”
Across social media platforms, more specifically Instagram, false information about how the Coronavirus originated has spread through memes and controversial images/videos promoting sinophobic behavior.
“I have experienced and seen more negative reactions from others who look down upon the virus,” said Gonzalez. “More so trying to avoid it and criticize it than help those suffering.”
The discrimination reached a further extent on January 30th, when an elderly Chinese man died of a stroke in Sydney, Australia. Witnesses say they were scared to give CPR in fear that he could have the virus, and due to this, the man was unresponsive when paramedics arrived.
“It seems to me that the bystanders only saw that person as someone who could kill them instead of a valuable life that was in danger,” said Castillo.
On February 4th, an online petition to shut down schools within the Alhambra District with high Asian populations reached an estimated 14,000 signatures before getting removed by Change.Org in violation of their rules. It was up for almost a week until the incident reached CNN; and since then, the district has yet to make any statement acknowledging the situation.
“Americans largely blame others to avoid being associated or blamed for anything with a negative connotation,” expressed New West Charter junior, Elyssa Gonzalez.
Within California, conditions regarding the virus have been documented thoroughly with investigations regarding the subject being intimate and open.
The second and third cases confirming the virus in California discussed an elderly couple who began isolating themselves after catching something stronger than the average flu. Afraid to spread it, they remained in their household for a week before contacting authorities to come rescue and transport them to a safe quarantine.
Back in Wuhan, mortality increases dramatically by the day, as more shocking cases come forth. On February 5th, a woman gave birth to a baby. The baby was later found out to have tested positive for the Coronavirus, and since then has been taken into isolation. Six days later, a baby in Vietnam was tested positive for Coronavirus, believed to be infected by a visiting grandparent.
The mortality rate is at 2.1% nationwide. On February 9th as it reaches over 1,000 deaths, officially overtaking SRS (WorldMeters).
Since 2010, the victims and accused have been interchangeable to the media’s eyes. In 2014, during the Ebola breakout, there was a mass racial bias spike online towards African Americans. Accusations grouping all of the same race within the “risk group”.
“I think we see minorities as the scapegoat because people just feel like they’re easier to believe that the people where the virus particularly came from or originated from,” said Wells.