You've heard about it, you've "meme"-d about it, you've stopped drinking coronas because of it, and in all seriousness, you're a little worried about it.
So what the hell is going on?
The coronavirus, titled COVID-19, has evolved into a deadly epidemic that has claimed the lives of 1,700 individuals as of February 16th, 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global public health emergency. China has responded well to the outbreak by taking time-efficient measures to treat victims and mitigate the virus's spread - but everyone is terrified. While there have been issues regarding the transparency of the situation on behalf of China, the WHO continuously updates data reports in order to publicize the status of the outbreak.
Public reaction to the crisis hasn't exactly been great. It kind of reminds me of the Ebola ordeal. Except given the already rocky relationship that America has with China, the discrimination is notably worse. A video from CNN explains how racism and xenophobia have increased dramatically as a result of coronavirus. There have been countless verbal attacks towards people of East Asian ethnicities. Likewise, several Chinese restaurants have experienced severe drops in business due to customer avoidance.
This isn't okay.
It's one thing to be weary of a sickness, but another thing to stigmatize an entire social group because of it. The U.S. has taken cautious measures to regulate incoming travelers from China in order to prevent the spread of the virus in America. Chinese and Chinese Americans who were here before the coronavirus should not fall victim to the discriminatory walls that people are putting up for what they deem to be their own safety.
This virus affects the whole world, and carrying around prejudice is not going to improve the situation for anybody. We as a community need to focus on being kind, compassionate, and inclusive - not alienating people for reasons of ignorance or comedy. We can't cure the virus or save the lives of the victims, but we can actively make an effort to educate ourselves and be more trusting of one another.
A little faith can go a long way.