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Racism: An Unexpected Symptom of the Coronavirus Outbreak

Racism: An Unexpected Symptom of the Coronavirus Outbreak

While the physical health effects of the coronavirus are well documented, another side effect of the coronavirus appears to be racism. East Asian travelers around the world have been reporting discrimination from major hotel chains, cruises during their travels–even if they haven’t traveled anywhere near China.

The Super 8 Incident

“Anyone from China needs to be quarantined for two weeks,” said a Super 8 Motel employee in Plymouth, Indiana recently caught on a now-viral video by two travelers–Kao Lor and his uncle Lee Lor–who say that they began recording when the desk agent asked if they were from China. Kao and Lee Lor then went to a second Days Inn where the employee confirmed that Asians were not allowed, because of the coronavirus.

Wyndham Hotels, which franchises both the Days Inn and Super 8 brands responded to the incidents by saying that while the two locations in the videos are “individually owned and operated,” there’s no corporate quarantine policy. However, this isn’t the first time that this type of discrimination has taken place.

Other Incidents

Since the coronavirus’ debut on the world stage, incidents of racism against East Asians has been well documented. The Economist article, The coronavirus spreads racism against—and among—ethnic Chinese, has documented multiple cases of students bullying peers on the basis of being of Chinese descent and Chinatowns around the world suffering from sluggish foot traffic. The scare has also flooded the internet, where disinformation has spread to suggest Asian food can carry the virus and people of Asian descent around the world sharing anecdotes of being targets of hatred and slurs.

And, it’s not just hotels that have been accused of discrimination. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines have barred passengers with Chinese passports from boarding, the Los Angeles Times reports. Currently, only .005% of the mainland Chinese population has been diagnosed with coronavirus, compared to an estimated 10% of the US population contracting influenza last year.


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View Comments (12)


  1. OUTraveling

    February 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I think we all need to prove that we are anti-racists by hugging people getting off of flights from China. Just look at these brave Italian Anti-Racists hugging Chinese people in Italy.

  2. Bradhattan

    February 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Unexpected Racism? What world do you live in?

  3. TravelingZoomer

    February 26, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Maybe for the-lacking-of-melatonin people, it was unexpected.

    For everyone else, we saw it coming.

  4. edgewood49

    February 27, 2020 at 6:58 am

    It’s apparent what people think about this issue. Little Decorum in posting

  5. Jprod

    February 27, 2020 at 10:00 am

    I’m sick and tired of how the word racism gets thrown around every day now inappropriately

  6. Jprod

    February 27, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Definition of racism – prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

    This is not racism. Ignorance yes ,but not racist buy the known definition of the word.

  7. Jprod

    February 27, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Sorry about the typo – should be by not buy

  8. IBJoel

    February 27, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    Hi Jprod, let’s break that down for a second. That’s the definition Google provides and not from Oxford English or Merriam Webster, but that’s OK. There is overt racial/racist theory, such as what you have described. There are also more subtle forms that fit the definition. Finding one race preferable to others or finding other races preferable to another is also racism or racial prejudice.

    “Based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”. Superior in what way? This is very encompassing, including the idea that one’s culture is “better” or that certain races have disadvantages (such as the belief that people of Asian descent will be carrying certain illnesses).

    “Racism” is now colloquially used in its second sense, to describe power and political structures that discriminate against people of color. Words and usage evolve over time and secondary meanings can become primary and vice versa and entirely new meanings can pop up.

  9. Dr.Ells

    March 1, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Just in on last UA flight out of MXP this morning. Maybe the Italians should not have hugged the Chinese people!

  10. weero


    March 1, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    that’s not in the OB or Webster either IBJoel. that’s just a deformation, some questionable “academics” use.
    In no serious dictionary, only one group can receive or dish out racism.
    and sure, things change. But if you have to be subtle to find racism, then it’s not a real problem. Then it just turned meaningless.

  11. JackE

    March 2, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    LOL. The folks screaming “racism” don’t know what “race” means, much less “racism”. Chinese is a nationality, not a race.

  12. Worcester

    March 4, 2020 at 4:42 am

    Jprod sounds like you have never been a victim of racism, well I am glad about that but you may want to attempt to have some empathy with those who have. Chinese kid was beaten up in London yesterday with the thugs involved using the virus as an excuse. Racism is sadly a very real problem for many.

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