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Coronavirus Is Fueling Prejudice, Asian-American Group Says

Asian Services in Action CEO Elaine Tso says Asian-American business owners have seen a decrease in customers since the new strain of the coronavirus was discovered to have originated in China. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]
the mostly empty interior of a Chinese restaurant

Fear and misinformation about the coronavirus has ignited discrimination against Chinese-Americans across the country and here in Northeast Ohio, according to Asian Services in Action (ASIA), a local Asian health and social services organization.

News of the coronavirus is leading to prejudice towards the local Asian-American community, said ASIA CEO Elaine Tso. It’s due in part to serious misinformation about how the virus is spread, she said.

“There’s nothing genetically different about Asians or Chinese-Americans that would make them at a higher risk of transmitting or contracting the virus,” she said.

Many people assume Asian-Americans could have the disease, even if they haven’t traveled internationally or been in contact with someone with the virus, Tso said.

“Being Asian-American or Chinese-American is not equivalent to being the coronavirus,” she said.

ASIA has been talking with Cleveland-area Asian-American business owners, who say they’ve seen a decrease in customers after reports about the new strain of coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158