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Coronavirus: “Do Americans even care?”

Illustration: April Kinney · The Sentry · International Students feel the coronavirus’s impact.

International cases continue to spread

The international community as a whole has been forced to face the coronavirus emergency as cases worldwide have multiplied, the death toll rising. Even with the issue garnering international attention, Americans don’t seem terribly concerned, a sentiment that led a pair of Chinese students currently studying at CU Denver to ask, “Do Americans even care?” 

The pair wished to remain anonymous but remained adamant about the virus. “In China,” said one, “we wear masks to keep from getting sick. Here, a lot of people don’t even wash their hands.” Both of the students have been studying abroad in Colorado for almost two years, one coming from Beijing, where CU Denver’s Chinese sister school is located, and the other from Chengdu, the capital city of the Sichuan Province in southwestern China.

One side effect of the coronavirus is the stereotyping of the Chinese people as a whole. One of the anonymous students cited a story from the New York Post about a Chinese woman on the subway. According to the Post, the woman, reportedly wearing a mask, was called a “diseased bitch” before being assaulted. 

Citing the above story, the student spoke of the difference between America’s reaction to the coronavirus, versus the Chinese reaction. “Americans are really afraid of Chinese wearing masks, but like in China we would just stay in union and fight together. We’re not that afraid of things because everything is kind of under control. Everyone is fighting for [the same thing].” 

The coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei Province. While the virus has been dubbed “the coronavirus,” the term coronavirus actually refers to “a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control’s website. While much mystery remains about the virus, the CDC notes that it is a respiratory pathogen, and as such it spreads in much the same way that the flu spreads. 

There are currently tens of thousands of confirmed cases worldwide, with over 700 reported deaths. While the virus began in China, it has now been confirmed in at least 28 countries, including most of Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada, and even Australia. 

All CU Denver study abroad trips to Beijing for this semester were cancelled, leaving the students who intended to study in China this spring scrambling to recover credit hours here. Additionally, CU Denver’s Human Resources department sent an email to all faculty and staff stating that all employees “returning from the Hubei province in China,” who must abide by the 14-day quarantine, as per the federal government, will be placed on paid administrative leave. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned that, despite a slowing of cases in China, the coronavirus has yet to reach its peak. 

The WHO weren’t the only ones with a message for the world, however. “Anyone can get sick,” said the anonymous Chinese students. “Treat everyone equally. If one of a kind of people gets sick, don’t treat everyone of the same race group as sick.”

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