Home Travel Should You Avoid Chinatowns In The U.S. Because Of Coronavirus?

Should You Avoid Chinatowns In The U.S. Because Of Coronavirus?

by joeheg

There’s no weather event, corporate bankruptcy or airline crash that even comes to close to the disruption of global travel due to coronavirus, or COVID-19 to be scientifically correct. The extent of the health crisis the virus will cause is still unknown but there’s no doubt that the travel industry, including airlines, hotels and cruise ships will feel the effect of this event for a long time. All of the secondary tourist locations like restaurants and gift shops are also feeling the effect of fewer visitors.

While COVID-19 first appeared in China, the delay in symptoms from infection makes it a perfect example of how a disease can rapidly spread with an interconnected global community. With stories of quarantines spreading around the globe, it’s no surprise that people are afraid. What’s scarier than an invisible germ that could possibly kill you and there’s no way to tell who’s infected? People in California and Alabama are complaining that they don’t want quarantined people staying anywhere near their neighborhoods.

When there’s a lack of information, people will start to form their own opinions, even if they aren’t based on any sort of scientific evidence or logic.

I wasn’t surprised when I read this article from Gothamist about how people are avoiding New York City’s Chinatowns in Manhattan and Queens even though there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City.

While a decreased number of tourists from China is contributing to the problem, New Yorkers who previously went to the numerous Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood are now avoiding the area entirely.  To try and combat the worries of travelers, tour guides are taking people around the area, showing them it’s still safe to visit Chinatown.

Here are some headlines about the same thing happening in Chinatown neighborhoods around the country.

Honestly, all you need to do is type any city with a Chinatown into Google with the phrase “(city) coronavirus Chinatown” and you’ll find multiple posts about how people aren’t visit the communities due to coronavirus. America isn’t the only country with this problem as European cities from Milan to London are seeing the same reaction from residents and visitors alike

With cases appearing in South Korea, Japan, Iran and now in Italy, the CDC is putting out the idea that it’s possible for an outbreak of the disease to happen in the U.S. Fears resulting from this threat will only make people act more irrationally, possibly avoiding contact with all people of Asian descent. After all, if you’re worried about dying, do you have to the time to figure out if someone is from China, Korea, Japan or Singapore? Not to mention that the person you’re looking at might have been born in the U.S. and never even stepped a foot outside of their home country.

I have a bad feeling about the spread of this virus and how it will cause people to panic. Despite calling it coronavirus or COVID-19, people still associate it with China and by association, people of Chinese descent and anyone who looks like they might be from any Asian country.

Final Thoughts

Back to the question at hand. Should YOU avoid going to Chinatown because you’re afraid of getting COVID-19? There’s no evidence that going to Chinatown will increase your risk of getting sick. Statistically, you’re at more risk of dying from the flu than you are from coronavirus.

It’s more the fear of getting sick than the actual chance of catching the disease that’s keeping people away. Convincing people that it’s safe to visit Chinatown once COVID-19 is under control will take much longer than it took for people to avoid the neighborhoods in the first place. Here’s hoping the hard-working people in these communities aren’t affected too much because of the unwarranted negative publicity they’re receiving due to no fault of their own.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian February 24, 2020 - 1:35 pm

When I saw the headline I was wondering if it was some form of satire, but that’s not normally your style. Of course it’s ridiculous to avoid a Chinatown area domestically. That would be like avoiding any Hispanic areas of Miami out of fear of Cuban spies. SMH over the stuff people do. I just hope that a bunch of racism doesn’t arise because of this virus.

joeheg February 24, 2020 - 9:25 pm

I generally don’t do satire because I’m not that good at it. As your final point, I’m going to reftain from calling those avoiding Chinatown racist because of the negative connotation that term has nowadays. They’re lacking the information to make a good judgement.

derek February 24, 2020 - 2:34 pm

Almost certainly misguided. However, if one is super cautious, then avoid Little Italy, all pizza restaurants, the entire borough of Staten Island (NYC) because there are many Italians there. Also avoid all Middle Eastern restaurants and anybody that looks dark skinned Italy is currently a hot bed of Covid-19 in Europe and Iran is in the Middle East.

The fact of the matter is that the US is almost not affected at all at the moment so it is racist and hysteria to avoid Chinatown in the US.

joeheg February 24, 2020 - 9:26 pm

I don’t think we’re to the point of hysteria yet, but it cases start to break out in the US it’s bound to happen, and quickly.

Bob February 24, 2020 - 7:30 pm

Please stop with the fear mongering headlines. Chinatown is fine as long as you’re not actually in China.

joeheg February 24, 2020 - 9:28 pm

I wasn’t fearmongering. There are people out there asking this question and I think the article tried to show the effect the fear is having on these communities. Hopefully someone who’s afraid to go to dinner will decide that it’s OK based on the information provided.


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