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Ayanna Pressley, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts District 7, took time during the House of Representatives hearing with the Centers for Disease Control today to complain about the xenophobia and racism that has accompanied the import of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
"Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak," Pressley began, "we have seen not only the spreading of the virus but also a rapid spreading of racism and xenophobia. We have witnessed at the highest levels, in fact, of the Republican party, fanning, irresponsibly, these flames. One colleague tweeted that 'everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus,' unquote. My district is home to nearly 32 percent foreign born residents, with more than a quarter immigrating from Asia."
"This painful rhetoric has consequences. Restaurants across Boston's Chinatown have seen up to an 80 percent drop in business," Pressley continued. "And I believe this has everything to do with the rapid spread of misinformation and paranoia. It is critical that we stand against these insightful messages and assuage fear in our communities. And we do that by dispelling untruths and misinformation. We can only do that by sharing the facts."
But what Pressley did not do was mention that it is, in fact, a fact that the Covid-19 coronavirus came from a location in China. Nor did she mention that many people are simply not going out to eat because they have been instructed to embrace "social distance" and have spent all their money stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Naming an illness after the place it was discovered is a traditional practice, and has been done countless times.
The hearing was scheduled so that lawmakers could question CDC officials about just what is going on with prevention and containment of the coronavirus in the US. Pressley went on to ask about what Congress and the White House could do for uninsured workers who get sick and for hourly and wage workers who do not have sick leave.
Questions from Delegate Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands about how to handle the digital divide among students if schools are closed, as well as how students who eat most of their meals at home will access food. Still other legislators were concerned about cruise ship safety, and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz is most worried about the lack of Covid-19 testing, access to tests, and the exposing of health care workers to the virus.