“Fake News” and Reliable Reporting Fight Over Coronavirus Coverage


By Simon Albaugh – YAN

“When you see an Asian Person with a face mask, what do you think?” said a restaurant worker in Madison Heights.

On Friday, Democratic Senator Stephanie Chang released a statement detailing “the rise of racist sentiments” toward Asian American communities. Those sentiments, seen in a number of viral videos, mean being singled out on public transportation, being denied rooms in hotels, or as one video showed, being physically attacked on a morning commute.

The racist sentiment stems from extremely misguided views on the Novel Coronavirus, also called COVID-19. The virus reportedly first became an issue in Wuhan, China when it was traced to a fish market in the capital city.

Wuhan is the capital of the Hubei Province near Central China. Currently, the province is under a strict quarantine, with those who just traveled in Hubei reportedly kept in quarantine for two weeks when first arriving in the United States.

According to the center for disease control, the general American public is considered to have a low risk of being exposed to the virus. Meaning that for the vast majority of Americans, there is little chance of contracting Coronavirus.

The US Public Health System has confirmed a total of 19 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Only one person in Michigan has been suspected of carrying Coronavirus, but health officials announced that testing showed negative results for Coronavirus. Meaning that there are currently no confirmed cases in the state of Michigan.

The center for disease control has also outlined the populations most at-risk of contracting the virus. Mainly those who use international travel frequently and healthcare workers treating cases of the virus that are currently outside the state of Michigan.

According to the BBC, the mortality rate of the Coronavirus is about 9 for every 1,000 cases. Each individual’s risk is heavily determined by their age, general health and the quality of healthcare in the area. Still, for around 99% of people who do contract the virus, it won’t be deadly.

The symptoms of the virus can range from mild to severe, with a fever, coughing and shortness of breath being reported as the main signs of the virus. According to the Center for Disease Control, symptoms may appear as early as two days and as late as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Still, the relatively mild nature of the disease hasn’t stopped Asian Americans in Michigan from experiencing some form of racial prejudice. Leslie is the husband of a Chinese restaurant worker in Madison Heights. Although he comes from Chinese descent, he was born in America. His wife, in China.

“People think Chinese people will eat anything,” Leslie said. “That’s just not true. But they think that’s why it started.”

The fact is that the disease came from China. But this hasn’t stopped many unfounded claims that are being spread by dubious news sites. The disease did not spread because of different cultural practices. And there is definitely not a conspiracy by any government to spread the virus, as some unprofessional news sites would claim.

In a report published by Stat News, a news site dedicated to health and healthcare, the threat of misinformation about the Novel Coronavirus is a very real problem. Stat News has created a project that is attempting to highlight the misinformation that has been spreading. And some of it is laughably bad misinformation.

According to the reporting around that project, Stat News has claimed that misinformation is ultimately winning the battle over people’s opinions. Meaning that in an era of “Fake News” and alternative facts, the alternative facts could prove to make other international emergencies like coronavirus more difficult to keep under control.

Regardless of the right information, Leslie says he can spot the people staring at him at grocery stores and other public spaces. At one point, his friends convinced him to cough as a joke to an older woman who was staring at his group of friends. He said the woman seemed genuinely afraid.

In Senator Chang’s statement, she highlighted the need for everyone to work to understand the virus.

“We must not succumb to conspiracy theories and misinformation,” Senator Chang said. “It is our shared responsibility to recognize the roles we play in dispelling bias and slander, and instead dedicate our energy to amplifying scientific facts and the truth.”

And the truth is that at this stage, the general American public has a low chance of contracting the virus. People around the world are working to control the spread, limit exposure, and develop a harmless vaccine for the COVID-19 Virus.