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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Tsai

COVID-19 and Human Nature

What does coronavirus reveal about human nature and how we cope with the unknown?

COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, has taken over every headline on every news channel, publication sites, and everyone’s daily conversations. With now over 2,100 confirmed cases in 49 states of America and 421 confirmed cases in New York alone as of Friday, March 13th, President Trump declared this new virus outbreak a national emergency.

The coronavirus causes symptoms such as the runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever, and even pneumonia or breathing difficulties in some. Aside from the physical symptoms, another horrific result of the corona outbreak is the unveiling of the dark side of human nature.

The disease first broke out in Wuhan, China. As a disturbing result, people across the world began targeting East Asian individuals, blaming them for the virus. Racism and xenophobia surged, and numerous instances of violence against Asians were caught on tape and circulated around the internet. As an East Asian American, I have personally experienced this xenophobic ignorance in the NYC subway. A week ago, when I got on the F train and sat down on the subway seat, a Hispanic mother sitting next to me immediately got up and dragged her 2 kids to the far end of the seat while telling her kids “stay away from people like her, they are dangerous”. At first, I thought it was understandable that she was alerted when I sat down, as we have all been advised to practice social distancing and stay away from close contact. However, I noticed that when a couple of caucasian teenage passengers got on the subway and sat next to her, she said nothing.

This was an extremely upsetting encounter. However, there are many other Asian Americans that experienced worse— violent physical assaults. Videos of Asian individuals that got punched in the face, dumped with a bucket of water in the streets and shoved against the floor on subways began to surge all over the internet. Along with racial slurs and xenophobic comments such as “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country" revealed the amplified human instincts of confronting the unknown with fear, stigma, scapegoating.

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