When It’s More Than a Joke

The issues ethnic groups face with the recent coronavirus

Haylee Emanuel

Do you have the Coronavirus? Get away from me I don’t want to get the Coronavirus. These are the questions and statements many people of the Asian

Photo credit: New York Times

ethnic group hear. The Coronavirus originated in China after reportedly “escaping a lab”. Now, what exactly is the Coronavirus? “Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the jump to humans, but most just cause cold-like symptoms.” Sarah Newey states. 

Symptoms of the virus are the same as your average cold. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms to be aware of are: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

According to a Los Angeles Times article: “False health information including warnings to avoid Asian food and Asian-populated areas has circulated, and videos of Asian people eating bats accompanied by inaccurate speculation about the cause of the virus and dehumanizing comments have gone viral. A barrage of vicious discussion and derogatory jokes about Chinese people or Asians, in general, have gathered steam online, drawing on age-old racist tropes associating Chinese people with disease, filth, and dirty food, experts say.” 

The virus is causing widespread panic around the world. “More than 81,000 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak started, and the death toll has exceeded 2,700. The vast majority of cases are in China but the virus has spread to 30 other countries. According to data from the Chinese authorities, around 80 percent of cases of the disease are mild but 20 percent require hospitalization.” Newey says.

It’s even more common in areas that has any sort of Asian person that can lead to people quickly avoiding or attacking. “Aida Zhu, 21, who was about to board a flight back home to San Diego, saw an agent with the Transportation Security Administration staring at her as she shuffled through security at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston while wearing a mask.

“I hope you’re not ill,” he said to her in a disgusted tone.” Hussain writes. 

The virus can be spread in two ways: Person to Person and Person to Object. The virus is seen to be spread mostly from person to person. 

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

The CDC has also concluded that many can contract the virus from touching an infected surface or object. “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

The CoronaVirus is a simple strand of flu that is starting to bring out the worst in people. Everyone talks of standing together and fighting side by side, but the moment something small makes its way into the fraction everyone turns on each other. What would you do if you were being asked such harsh questions? They may seem like “harmless jokes” but your xenophobia is starting to show.