By: Drew Bethel
A death toll in the thousands. Over 60,000 infected. Two hospitals built in less than 10 days. The Wuhan Coronavirus has spurred global panic, grasping massive media attention, and caught the eye of the CDC. Despite this, one of the biggest side effects remains under the radar: racism. With its origins beginning in China’s Hubei province, anyone of Asian descent faces the worries of their neighbors. Although it can be transmitted by anyone, people have stuck to blaming them. In this article, the Trojan Torch did some investigation through different media sources to uncover the current state of the disease, including what it is, how it’s affecting your classmates, and how you can combat not only the sickness but the accompanying racism as well.
According to CNN, the new strain of Coronavirus began in Wuhan, China in late December of 2019. Since then, millions of people have been quarantined to combat its rapid spread. While scientists remain unsure, it is suspected that the disease was able to leap from a warm-blooded host: bats. A common food source for snakes like the Chinese cobra or Chinese krait, the disease supposedly jumped from one host to another, until it finally caught our attention when the snakes went up for sale at a seafood market in Hubei. Since its initial discovery, it’s been on the move as cases have begun to pop up across the globe. There are currently 14 cases in the United States but for now, they are contained. Luckily, there have been no confirmed cases in Oklahoma but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible.
The sickness itself:
Facts about the new coronavirus are still wobbly at best. Due to its sudden emergence, all scientists have to go off of is the coronavirus’ that came before it. It’s not the first of it’s kind but this new strain certainly raises some questions. They know that it spreads much like influenza, mostly by respiratory droplets transmitted via coughing or sneezing. Once inhaled, the disease can cause pneumonia and create real trouble within your respiratory system. There’s no vaccination for it but it’s not extremely deadly. Compared to this year’s flu, the coronavirus looks like the last thing we need to worry about. According to Health Magazine, the flu has killed 12,000 people between October 1, 2019, and February 1, 2020, with an estimation of nearly 30,000 total by the end of this season. However, that doesn’t mean that the coronavirus doesn’t have the potential to be a close rival. It’s most commonly transmitted through close person-to-person interaction, approximately less than six feet apart. For places like China, this could be catastrophic due to the highly condensed population.
“I think at the root is fear,” says history teacher, Christina Henson. “I think anything that we don’t have an understanding of could potentially lead to that. A lot of times I don’t think people realize they’re being racist we all have the potential to have racist inclinations, even if we don’t believe it. There’s something innate in us that looks at people or something we don’t understand.”
This is not uncommon. Washington Post claims that whenever a new disease or virus hits the scene, people are stereotyped or profiled in response. People attached the Ebola virus to Africans and HIV to the LGBT community. These stereotypes are not uncommon and unfortunately student’s covering their mouths and coughing at Asian students or making racially charged coronavirus jokes aren’t either. In response to the discrimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has shifted gears from calling it the Wuhan Coronavirus to its new official name, COVID-19. An attempt to erase its stigma, WHO made sure that its origins couldn’t be found in its name.
In times like this, it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible. What you need to know about the spread of COVID-19 is that it travels much like the flu. Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth should be common practice. As of right now, there aren’t any cases in Oklahoma but you should still wash your hands regularly as the flu is also going around. As for combatting the racism, the best thing you can do is to be educated on the subject and make sure you or those around you aren’t the culprits behind it.
Now that you’re caught up, if you’d like live updates here’s a link to CNN.
A map of current confirmed cases of COVID-19 (February 24, 2020) Photo/CDC