The coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, has sparked so much panic and hysteria in society since it first made headlines in the past few months and has since turned into an international crisis.
Down in The South, I have experienced the ugly sides of the media's use of power and that has led to incredible displays of racism toward the Asian community. People are avoiding Chinese and Japanese restaurants, canceling their appointments at nail salons, and at my school, which is an international university where a majority of the international students are from parts of Asia, people are treating Asian students like lepers.
How the Asian community is being treated reminds me of when the Ebola disease was only associated with Africans and when the swine flu (H1N1) was a thing, it was associated with Mexican farmers. I was in the third grade and I remember when the news about H1N1 first broke out — the media talked about it and it scared me that I cried and begged my mom not to let me go to school because I didn't want to catch it. The media scared me then and now it's scaring others. The media is not helping ease the public's mind, but rather inciting more fear, which prompts more racism.
COVID-19 isn't a regular disease, it's a disease of racism.
On the CDC's COVID-19 fact sheet, the number one fact states, "People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19."
The CDC also states that using basic best practices, like washing your hands, avoiding contact with yourself and others with unwashed hands, staying home if you are sick, and covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough, is the best way to help prevent the spread of the virus. The fact that people are emphasizing how to wash your hands properly, staying home if you are sick, and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough means that most people have not been doing these general practices that should have been taught to them when they were children.
You are part of the problem of why viruses and diseases spread quickly if you use the bathroom and walk out without washing your hands or coughing and not covering your mouth.
Of the 1,200-plus cases in America, at least 40 people have died from the virus. The media isn't revealing who is succumbing to the virus which is adding more fear and panic into Americans and the rest of the world. Many schools are closing down and many universities are moving to online-only courses until the virus is contained, but how does this affect schools like mine? People attend my campus from all over the world, so my classmates who are from Italy can't go home and my domestic classmates may not have money to travel all the way to their home state.
This isn't to say to take COVID-19 lightly, but don't treat it like it's the Asian community's fault.
I've had my fair share of joking about the cheap flights since the virus has caused many airlines to take their prices down (I seriously almost bought a one-way ticket to Greece), but it's not a joke at the end of the day, it's how people cope with fear — fear that the media is not helping put at ease. There are ways to handle the situation at hand and it's not by attacking one race or ethnic group, it's by practicing cleanliness (again, something people should have been doing all along) and staying home if you feel sick.