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Fears Over Coronavirus Threaten Asian American Businesses

Coronavirus fears could be hurting Asian American businesses. Business owners in Chinese American communities say that business is slower than usual.

In Brooklyn, the Chinese community says misinformation about the coronavirus has spread fear among Chinese residents, the Brooklyn Paper reports. Restaurants and stores have seen less business during Lunar New Year.

“This should be a busy holiday season. Around this time of year, businesses are doing banquets for the new year,” Kenneth Chiu, a Sunset Park resident and the president of the New York City Asian-American Democratic Club.  said. “But people just want to be safe rather than sorry and it has affected catering halls, restaurants, eateries.” 

Sunset Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn with a large Chinese American population, has suffered losses. However, community leaders say its losses may not be as significant because most of its residents emigrated from Southern China, hundreds of miles away from Wuhan.

“Sunset Park seems a lot better,” Chiu said. “But it seems that business is 25 to 30 percent slower.”

According to KTVU, restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown have seen a 30 to 50 percent decrease in business. Community leaders say that many are afraid that Chinatown residents who traveled to China during Lunar New Year may have brought back the coronavirus.

The San Francisco Chinatown community held a meeting with health officials to address misinformation, KTVU reports. Jain Zhang, a community leader who works at a Chinese hospital in San Francisco, asked residents not to panic. She said that people should not believe rumors that workers at a certain restaurant may have traveled to China and contracted the coronavirus.

Rumors that the coronavirus has spread to businesses in San Francisco Chinatown are being circulated on WeChat, CBS SF Bay Area reports. The confusion has prompted the Department of Public Health to step in. They stated that the virus is not in San Francisco.

Health officials have told residents to practice good hygiene and take normal flu-season precautions.

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