California Sen. Kamala Harris and several other Senate Democrats introduced a resolution condemning COVID-19 virus nicknames such as the “Chinese virus” as racist.
President Trump and many others have used the terms “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese virus” to describe the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 5 million people worldwide. In a Wednesday Senate resolution co-sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and 23 other Democratic senators, lawmakers called on the chamber to condemn the terms as racist.
“The use of anti-Asian terminology and rhetoric related to COVID–19, such as the ‘Chinese Virus,’ ‘Wuhan Virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ have perpetuated anti-Asian stigma,” the resolution stated. “Since January 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of hate crimes and incidents against those of Asian descent.”
The resolution notes that one study found 400 instances of anti-Asian discrimination related to the pandemic between Feb. 9, 2020, and March 7, 2020. The resolution also cited the World Health Organization’s condemnation of using the virus’s location as a name.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize that naming COVID–19 by its geographic location or linking COVID–19 to a specific ethnicity perpetuates stigma,” the resolution states. “In 2015, the WHO issued guidance calling on media outlets, scientists, and national authorities to avoid naming infectious diseases for locations to avoid stigmatizing groups of people.”
The resolution “condemns all manifestations or expressions of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, anti-Asian sentiment, scapegoating, and ethnic or religious intolerance” while asking that federal authorities thoroughly investigate any instances of hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Trump, who has called the coronavirus the “China virus” several times, defended the use of the term by noting that many diseases are named after their regional origin and by stating that the Chinese Communist Party should be faulted for the spread of the virus.
The COVID-19 virus was first spotted in Wuhan, China, late last year. The Chinese government has stated that the virus was a transspecies infection that stemmed from a wet market. Trump, however, has said he is confident that the virus accidentally escaped a government lab in China. His support followed reports that the U.S. intelligence community believes that to be the case.