Coronavirus Does Not Discriminate, So Neither Should You: Ending Racist and Inappropriate Comments about the Disease

by Andrea Traietti on February 13, 2020


The shaded regions depicted on the map above indicate locations where cases of the virus have either been confirmed or are suspected to have occurred. Its spread to other parts of the globe is clear indication that the disease has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


by Julia McCoy ’22

Opinion Staff


As flu season once again plagues this campus, students are keeping their eye on more than just the flu. 

Earlier this year, an outbreak of  the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China. As of the beginning of February, upwards of 30,000 people have been infected with the disease, and it is spreading rapidly.

Additionally, there has yet to be an identified cure or vaccine that could help those who have been infected. 

Considering China’s large population and the rapid spread of the disease in that remote area, this disease has warranted worldwide fear. Its spread to other countries and continents is concerning, especially considering the amount of international travel that is natural to our society.

Providence College has particular interest in this issue. The PC School of Business, in conjunction with the Center for Global Education, had planned to launch a program at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China this spring before the outbreak occurred.

Four of the five enrolled students have worked with CGE and PCSB faculty and staff and are now beginning their studies in Dublin, Ireland instead.

Thankfully, PC students were able to stay safe and relocate to a new area before ever embarking to Shanghai. The Center for Global Education is now planning to launch the program in Shanghai in the spring of 2021.

The College is moving forward with the Maymester 2020 program in South Korea, according to Dean Joseph Stanley of the Center for Global Education, unless the situation escalates.

He is confident in his dialogue with On Call International, PC’s travel risk management partner, and other international stakeholders to make a well-informed decision, as the College did with PCSB in Shanghai.   

Of course, as college students, it is important to be aware of possible threats to our health. However, it is also imperative that students are correctly informed and do not spread false information regarding this outbreak.

Yes, it is true that the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China. However, that does not mean that Chinese people in general should be held responsible for an outbreak that exploded without their choosing.

This disease is not a matter of culture or ethnicity, it is not a matter of lifestyle. It is an unbiased virus that can affect anyone.

That’s right, some less informed people have taken to steering away from Chinese people in fear of the transmittance of the disease. 

Additionally, there is a generic stigma around all Asian citizens, regardless of the country or if their origin could have been exposed to the disease.

This stigma has little to no basis; while Asian countries are geographically closer to the area of impact, their chances of being infected with coronavirus are almost the same as America.

Perhaps this geographic distance makes people believe it more justified for some people to laugh about the coronavirus.

Twitter and Instagram, among other social media platforms, have been filled with jokes about “Corona-virus,” in which people call out of work to drink Corona beer. 

Not only do jokes like this diminish the actual effects of this rapidly spreading and deadly disease, they are insensitive to those affected by the increasing global nature of the disease. 

The United States has seen its first few cases in the last few days and a small panic has begun. With jokes circulating about the disease, it is a concern that people will not take this virus as seriously as they should. 

Consider the facts: this disease is rapidly mutating, it can spread faster than the common flu, there is no known vaccine, and it can go unnoticed for up to two weeks. 

Thus, it is incredibly important to take this virus seriously. It is a culture-blind disease that can affect the world.

Healthy habits and awareness of surroundings, especially on a college campus, are important during any normal flu season.  Coronavirus certainly comes with a more imminent threat, and it should therefore be taken seriously and not used as a reason to discriminate.