Over the last couple of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has caused ripple effects all across the globe. A tweet from President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire on Monday. “The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries,” he tweeted. “Like airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!”
On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his faulty terminology. “It’s not racist at all,” he said at the coronavirus task force’s daily news briefing. “Not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
Days before the tweet, the Center for Disease Control director Robert Redfield warned against geographically labeling the virus. In a hearing, Democratic representative Lois Frankel asked Redfield, “it’s absolutely wrong and inappropriate to call this the Chinese coronavirus, I assume you would agree with that?” Redfield agreed,
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus called on legislators to help prevent “hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” by sharing only confirmed verifiable information.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also condemned the anti-Asian racism tied to the pandemic. The Asian American Journalists Association released guidelines for responsible reporting in February to curb “fueling xenophobia and racism that have already emerged since the outbreak.”
Trump retweeted a post from conservative commentator Charlie Kirk that referred to the disease as the “China Virus.” Kirk called for Trump to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall. “Going up fast,” Trump replied. “We need the Wall more than ever!”
On Tuesday, CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted that a White House official referred to the illness as the “Kung-Flu” to her face. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” she continued.
In the Wednesday press conference, PBS News Hour journalist Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump whether he thought the term was appropriate. She continued, asking whether Trump thought using the term ‘Chinese virus’ puts Asian-Americans at risk. “No, not at all,” he replied. “I think they probably would agree with it 100%. It comes from China.”
On Thursday afternoon, Washington Post staff photographer Jabin Botsford posted a closeup of Trump’s speech notes before his conference with the coronavirus task force. In the images, Trump has appeared to cross out the word ‘Corona,’ replacing it with ‘Chinese’ in black marker.
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