Watch CBS News

Coronavirus panic sparks rise in racist incidents against Asian Americans

Coronavirus-related racism seeps into U.S.
Asian Americans see racism, discrimination amid coronavirus panic 04:32

Country-wide panic over the coronavirus has sparked a rise in racist incidents in schools and hotels against the Asian American community. Asian-American owned businesses have reported massive losses. Politicians are working to combat the discrimination, but a restaurant owner in New York City's Chinatown said "the damage is already done."

The CDC stated that race does not play a factor in contracting or spreading coronavirus. Despite this, the owner of popular NYC dim sum restaurant Jing Fong said fear of the disease has caused a 50% drop in business and led to a loss of $1.5 million.

"They're just scared to get infected by Chinese people," Kin Lam told CBS News' Weijia Jiang. His family has owned Jing Fong for over four decades, but said this was the first scare of its nature to affect business so badly.

"When you talk about swine flu and H1N1, we didn't feel anything at all," he said.

Lam said that coronavirus was crippling businesses and communities, but added that he thought the worst was still to come.

New York City's Asian communities have seen a rise in attacks, including on the subways. Videos posted to social media appear to show people violently confronting Asian Americans. One appears to show a man yelling "tell him to move," referring to an Asian man standing in front of the train car's doors.

Peter Koo, a city councilman from the predominantly Asian neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, said "Asian Americans are just like other Americans," and that "we are all susceptible to the virus."

School officials in Madison, Wisconsin have said they were working to stop those responsible for comments made towards Asian students.

Madison School District Spokesperson Tim Lemonds said they were "seizing that moment to educate that student so they, you know, understand that their words have meaning and can be hurtful."

The coronavirus-spurred racism is not limited to the U.S. Across the globe in the United Kingdom, a student from Singapore who is studying in London told the BBC he was walking down the street when four people attacked him, one shouting "I don't want your coronavirus in my country."

"It's a serious problem that has plagued us for a very long time," he said.

In February, a man posted videos to Facebook that appear to show employees at two Indiana hotels turning him away.

"You haven't heard of the coronavirus?" someone asked in one of the clips.

In another, the man can be heard asking, "So no Asians can stay here?"

When he asked why he was being refused, the employee appears to say "Coronavirus."

CBS News reached out to the alleged victim but did not hear back.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which owns both hotels, said in a statement, "We're deeply troubled by these incidents as they are not reflective of our values or our expectations of franchisees. While these locations are individually owned and operated, it's important to note that the "corporate policy" referenced in the video does not exist. Please know we're treating this matter seriously and we have addressed it with the owners of both hotels. We also have reminded our hotels that we do not tolerate discrimination or profiling of guests in any way."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.