When the Coronavirus entered most Americans’ radars, the deadly pandemic was largely contained to China. To try to keep the virus from entering America, President Trump on January 31st announced a ban on travel from China to the U.S.
The move was almost reflexively panned as “racist,” “xenophobic,” and not in line with science.
More than a month and a half later, it’s now widely acknowledged that limiting travel from “cluster” regions is one of the only ways to slow the virus’ rapid spread, and that this travel ban helped the United States gain time to prepare its defenses.
Americans themselves quickly began practicing “social distancing,” limiting their exposure to large groups of people where the virus can quickly spread exponentially. These common-sense measures were likewise derided as “racist.”
On the day the travel ban was announced, Joe Biden said: “The American people need to have a president who they can trust what he says about it, that he is going to act rationally about it. In moments like this, this is where the credibility of the president is most needed as he explains what we should and should not do. This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia and fear-mongering.”
When Americans began practicing “social distancing,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused them of racism.
“Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say, but there’s a lot of restaurants that are feeling the pain of racism, where people are literally not patroning [sic] Chinese restaurants, they’re not patroning [sic] Asian restaurants because of just straight up racism around the Coronavirus,” she said on Instagram Live.
Her Democratic colleague, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) likewise accused Americans of being “racist” for practicing what are now widely accepted as the best practices to prevent Coronavirus’ spread.
“You know, since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen not only the spreading of the virus but also a rapid spreading of racism and xenophobia,” the lawmaker said during a congressional oversight hearing. “We have witnessed it at the highest levels and, in fact, the Republican Party fanning, irresponsibly, these flames. One colleague tweeted that, ‘Everything you need to know about the Chinese Coronavirus.’ 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% drop in business. And I believe this has everything to do with the rapid spread of misinformation and paranoia.”
Americans, and Trump, were likewise attacked in the media. On CNN, contributor Jeff Yang said Americans were being racist for avoiding crowds and especially those sneezing and coughing.
“A lot of Asian-Americans and Asians in other countries, who are experiencing I guess you could say a metaphorically cold shoulder when it comes to being in public and simply being, you know, Chinese in a crowded space,” Yang said. “It’s something that causes people to part like the red sea, daring to cough or sneeze causes people to actually shy away from you. There is a sense in which people feel very much like there’s a kind of racial profiling occurring, simply because the disease so is far has been primarily limited in terms of fatalities.”
Yang additionally attacked Americans for connecting the spread of the Coronavirus to Chinese eating habits, even as scientists and China’s communist government agree that the virus can be traced back to “wet markets” where wild animals are sold for human consumption. “It is simply just beyond extreme and not held up by scientific data,” Yang said.
TV talking heads also claimed Trump’s Chinese travel ban is oppositional to science. The founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and frequent MSNBC guest, Peter Hotez, said: “Historically travel bans tend not to work very well, they tend to be counter productive.”
The health and biopharma news site, STAT, claimed the travel ban would help spread the virus further:
“The Trump administration’s decision to ban most foreign nationals who had been to China in the last two weeks from traveling to the United States amid an accelerating outbreak of a novel coronavirus there was preceded by calls for similar policies from conservative lawmakers and far-right supporters of the president. Public health experts, however, warn that the move could do more harm than good.
The administration’s public health emergency declaration also requires U.S. citizens returning from China to undergo some level of quarantine, depending on where they had been in China.
Vox “reported” the evidence proves these travel bans don’t work:
BuzzFeed called the travel ban an “overreaction,” which the Heritage Foundation’s Lyndsey Fifield recently recalled:
For more, check out the flashback montage above.