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Frontline Nurses Condemn Trump's Racism and Cruelty Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

"As nurses, we know that kindness and humanitarian compassion are at the core of healing, they are also at the heart of public health and safety."

U.S. President Donald Trump is flanked by Vice President Mike Pence while speaking during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump is flanked by Vice President Mike Pence while speaking during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Leaders of National Nurses United are calling on President Trump and other Republican officials to stop using racist and xenophobic language targeting China and Chinese people for the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

"It is alarming to hear our highest public officials calling this dangerous pandemic a 'Chinese' virus which is not only terribly misleading, it encourages acts of bigotry and threats of violence against people of Chinese descent as well as other Asian people," says NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director.

Social media has been swamped with reports from people of Asian descent who have been taunted with racist abuse, and physical threats.

"People of every nationality, every race, every ethnicity around the world have been infected, and are dying from COVIS-19. We can only fight this deadly virus as one people."

"As nurses, we know that kindness and humanitarian compassion are at the core of healing, they are also at the heart of public health and safety," says NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN.

"Blaming any one nationality or ethnicity only tears people apart and puts people in danger. We must stand together as one people, and understand that bullying, and threats will only make this severe national crisis worse," adds NNU President Jean Ross, RN.

In recent days, President Trump has stepped up use of the label "Chinese virus." Another unnamed White House official used an additional derogatory language referring to the virus as "Kung Flu."

Other Republican officials have engaged in similar or "even more appalling language and stereotyping," noted Castillo. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), for example, claimed that "China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that."

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In fact, Castillo noted, a number of highly developed Asian nations—including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—have demonstrated a much more rapid and effective response to containing the spread of the virus and providing treatment for those infected, than the U.S. and many European countries.

Many of their health care systems were set up to rapidly expand testing, social distancing and isolation measures, and treatment, and had more capacity to care for those harmed.

Further, viruses can emanate from places across the planet, including the United States. It has been widely reported that the so-called "Spanish flu" pandemic of 1918-1919 actually first occurred in the U.S., not Spain.

And, the acceleration of the climate crisis is encouraging an increase in the spread of a number of endemics, especially vector-borne viruses spreading from tropical settings to other regions as a result of global warming.

"People of every nationality, every race, every ethnicity around the world have been infected, and are dying from COVIS-19. We can only fight this deadly virus as one people," says Ross.

"As a global community we should be promoting international cooperation and sharing resources for testing, medical treatment, and the critical search for an effective vaccine. That, not blame, is how to end this crisis," Castillo says.

Chuck Idelson

Chuck Idelson is the Communications Senior Strategist for National Nurses United, the nation's largest union and professional organization of registered nurses with 150,000 members.

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