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Trump Refers To COVID-19 As 'Chinese Virus' Despite Rise In Anti-Asian Racism

Ryan Ford 17 Mar 2020

President Trump and several other prominent Republicans are being condemned for referring to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus" on social media, NBC News reported.

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Since the outbreak in China spread across borders, there has been a rise in anti-Asian discrimination.

Businesses such as Chinese restaurants saw a precipitous drop in patrons. And, there have been several reports of physical assaults, as well as countless smaller gestures of intolerance toward people of Asian descent, regardless of whether they had ever been to China, let alone been exposed to COVID-19.

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Early in the outbreak, when it was largely centered on Wuhan, China, many media outlets did indeed refer to the disease as the "Wuhan virus."

However, it has since been officially designated as COVID-19. Both the World Health Organization and the CDC caution against naming diseases after geographic locations or groups of people specifically to prevent stigma.

What's more, there is no real need at the moment to differentiate COVID-19 from any other strain of coronavirus. And yet, despite calls for unity in the face of an unprecedented situation, the president continues to refer to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus."

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President Trump's tweet referring to "the Chinese virus" was widely condemned on social media.

"Mr. President: This is not acceptable. Calling it the "Chinese virus" only instigates blame, racism, and hatred against Asians - here and abroad," wrote Eugene Cho on Twitter. "We need leadership that speaks clearly against racism; Leadership that brings the nation and world together. Not further divides."

"If you’re looking for someone to pin this crisis on, try the guy who made up a phony Google website or promised testing kits that he STILL hasn’t delivered," wrote NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Our Asian-American communities — people YOU serve — are already suffering. They don’t need you fueling more bigotry."

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Several other prominent Republicans have also come under fire for how they refer to the virus.

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar received criticism for his tweet about self-isolating due to possible exposure to the "Wuhan virus" at CPAC.

Even as Fox News' Tucker Carlson tried to get his audience to take the outbreak seriously, he referred to the "Chinese coronavirus" on his show.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also called COVID-19 "the Chinese coronavirus" on Twitter.

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Chinese officials responded to Trump's use of the "Chinese virus" name, calling it a smear against China..

"The U.S. should first take care of its own matters," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, according to NBC News.

CDC Director Robert Redfield has said that it's "absolutely wrong and inappropriate" to refer to COVID-19 as a "Chinese virus."

h/t: NBC News, Newsweek, Business Insider

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