Leaders of National Nurses United are calling on President Trump and other Republican officials to stop using racist and xenophobic language targeting China and Chinese people for the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It is alarming to hear our highest public officials calling this dangerous pandemic a ‘Chinese’ virus which is not only terribly misleading, it encourages acts of bigotry and threats of violence against people of Chinese descent as well as other Asian people,” says NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director.
Social media has been swamped with reports from people of Asian descent who have been taunted with racist abuse, and physical threats.
“People of every nationality, every race, every ethnicity around the world have been infected, and are dying from COVIS-19. We can only fight this deadly virus as one people.”
“As nurses, we know that kindness and humanitarian compassion are at the core of healing, they are also at the heart of public health and safety,” says NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN.
“Blaming any one nationality or ethnicity only tears people apart and puts people in danger. We must stand together as one people, and understand that bullying, and threats will only make this severe national crisis worse,” adds NNU President Jean Ross, RN.
Other Republican officials have engaged in similar or “even more appalling language and stereotyping,” noted Castillo. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), for example, claimed that “China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that.”
In fact, Castillo noted, a number of highly developed Asian nations—including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—have demonstrated a much more rapid and effective response to containing the spread of the virus and providing treatment for those infected, than the U.S. and many European countries.
Many of their health care systems were set up to rapidly expand testing, social distancing and isolation measures, and treatment, and had more capacity to care for those harmed.
Further, viruses can emanate from places across the planet, including the United States. It has been widely reported that the so-called “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918-1919 actually first occurred in the U.S., not Spain.
And, the acceleration of the climate crisis is encouraging an increase in the spread of a number of endemics, especially vector-borne viruses spreading from tropical settings to other regions as a result of global warming.
“People of every nationality, every race, every ethnicity around the world have been infected, and are dying from COVIS-19. We can only fight this deadly virus as one people,” says Ross.
“As a global community we should be promoting international cooperation and sharing resources for testing, medical treatment, and the critical search for an effective vaccine. That, not blame, is how to end this crisis,” Castillo says.