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Kansas official not worried about coronavirus because “we don’t necessarily have any [Chinese people]”

A county leader in Kansas seemingly downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus in his community when he said there are not a lot of Chinese people living in Central Kansas, reports the Kansas City Star.

Marvin Rodriguez Riley County photo

The remarks were made by Marvin Rodriguez, chairman of the Riley County Commissioners during a debate on whether to declare an emergency in response to the pandemic.

“I know that other people are having a great problem. And someone reminded me that in Italy, they have a lot of garment-people there, fashionistas, and they have a tremendous amount of Chinese there, and that’s where a lot of it started,” Newsweek reported Rodriguez as saying. “So we don’t necessarily have any [Chinese people], but I think the board would like to make sure we’re on top of it, and the board will decide on that part.”

According to the Daily Mail, there have been at least 57 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

Rodriguez says he’s only trying to calm any panic.

“We’re hurting a lot of people in Manhattan” by overreacting, he said. “Places are being shut down for no reason at all,” he told the Star.

The mayor of Manhattan, Kansas condemned Rodriguez’ remarks.

“Aside from obvious racism in that comment, let’s be clear, COVID-19 can be spread from anyone regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status…and it is in our community,” Usha Reddi said on Twitter, reported Newsweek.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story posted a photo of someone other than Rodriguez. We regret the error.)

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