What is more dangerous: Coronavirus or Racism?

Michelle Lin, Staff

As of March 2, studies have confirmed a total of 90,306 coronavirus cases globally. The coronavirus describes several types of viruses with their own separate symptoms, including the common cold and other respiratory infections. The current novel coronavirus people hear about on the news today, known as COVID-19, started to spread in December of 2019 in the Wuhan province of mainland China. Due to its active increase in cases and deaths happening right now, media coverage of the virus has spread massively. 

The way Western media portrays the issue with COVID-19 has caused extreme panic everywhere, and as a result, the number of hate crimes has spiked, making Asian-Americans paranoid of discriminatory acts out in the streets. In fact, incidents of xenophobic attacks on Asians around the world have occurred so often that Wikipedia has started a page that lists all the different hate cases that have occurred due to the outbreak. 

“It’s really sad to see all these articles online about how people are using Corona as an excuse to be racist to Asians. It has gotten to the point where Asians are too scared to cough or sneeze in public, even at schools. One of my friends, who is Asian, was walking in NC’s hallways and coughed twice because she simply had an itch in the back of her throat, and the guy next to her turned around so quickly and then started walking faster away. Stuff like that is happening in schools everywhere. On the news, I’ve seen an Asian kid gets hospitalized because someone beat him up claiming he had the Coronavirus. I don’t think stuff like this is out of fear but an excuse to bring out the racial tendencies people have deep down in their hearts,” NC senior Trisha Nguyen says.

Ever since the outbreak, Chinese restaurants everywhere in the states have struggled to earn money as their business drops to an all-time low due to customer anxiety of COVID-19, even though the US holds a mere 11 of the 3,348 worldwide deaths while 8 already recovered.

Although the mass spread of the coronavirus must be taken seriously since it is still considered as a virus with horrible symptoms, news articles tend to exaggerate situations, causing terror among the people. For each death from the disease a new article releases that cover the case, without any mention whatsoever of the 50,675 that have recovered from the illness. Even with no sign of a vaccine for the virus, the death rate of COVID-19 reaches only 2%. 

When comparing numbers of deaths and confirmed cases, the flu actually is considered far deadlier than COVID-19, yet people do not worry as much for influenza. In a matter of just four months and access to vaccines, the CDC estimates 32,000,000-45,000,000 flu cases with at least 310,000 hospitalized and 18,000-46,000 deaths during the 2019-20 flu season. 

A predominantly Caucasian country like Italy contains over 2,502 people that carry the virus, marking it as the third most COVID-19 cases in the world, yet people do not associate the disease with whites whatsoever. Instead, hate crimes such as an American that threw water at an Asian man because of a racist mentality of the coronavirus and an Asian man attacked by a racist mob group in London over coronavirus accusations, take place all over the world. To make matters even worse, recently Jesse Watters, the host of one of the largest news platforms, FOX News, made xenophobic commentary by blaming China for starting an epidemic and claims to want an apology for eating “bat and snake soup,” an extrinsic cultural dish of the Chinese. 

As a result of exaggeration, inaccurate information and lack of interpretations of large media sources, people tend to negatively stereotype the entire Asian community with the Coronavirus. According to former Democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, he claims that the negative association of Asians and the disease “is very very unfortunate but a human impulse or reaction. It’s just human nature.” Yang and several others point out that discriminating against the Asian community acts out of fear and not racism, that it deems normal to caution. 

However, just because the virus originated from Asia does not mean all Asians hold a higher chance of processing the disease and should be considered extremely wrong to assume based on just race. Fear should not propose an excuse to discriminate, stereotype or perform hate crimes since any race or ethnicity all hold the same chance of carrying COVID-19.