Close-up photos of President Donald Trump’s prepared remarks for Thursday’s White House news briefing on the novel coronavirus show he crossed out part of the phrase “Corona Virus” and altered it to “Chinese Virus.”
—Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) March 19, 2020
Trump and the White House task force on the coronavirus have held nearly daily briefings to update the public on what the federal government, local governments, and drug companies are doing to mitigate the rapid spread of the disease within the US.
In addition to downplaying the virus and refusing to take responsibility for the US’s initially lukewarm response to it, Trump and Republican officials have repeatedly — and inaccurately — referred to it as the “Chinese virus.”
They continue to do so even in the face of warnings from experts on China and public health, who say the term is racist and xenophobic.
“The use of this term is not only corrosive vis-à-vis a global audience, including here at home, it is also fueling a narrative in China about a broader American hatred and fear of not just the Chinese Communist Party but of China and Chinese people in general,” Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The New York Times.
Indeed, Asian-Americans have reported experiencing racism and physical abuse because of the false perception that China is the cause of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also urged against calling the coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, the “Chinese virus.”
“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank. Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said on Wednesday. “So it’s really important we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus.”
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he called the disease “Chinese virus” to hit back at the Chinese government for spreading the conspiracy theory that the American military was responsible for the initial outbreak in Wuhan, which is at the epicenter of the crisis.
“I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them,” Trump said. “I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma.”
The next morning, he again referred to the disease as the “Chinese Virus” on Twitter.
The WHO declared the coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, a pandemic on March 11.
To date, 235,701 people around the world have been infected and 9,786 have died as a result.
In the US, at least 10,822 people across every state, plus Washington, DC, and three US territories, have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a Times database, and at least 168 patients with the virus have died.