Queens politicians are calling out the New York Post for using a misleading photo of Flushing Main Street, where the population is mostly Asian, to aid a story about the first case of coronavirus that was reported in Manhattan.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky condemned the tweet sent out by the New York Post Sunday night. The tweet used a picture of an Asian man in Flushing, while linking to an article about a coronavirus case in Manhattan.
“Posting a picture of an Asian man in Flushing, Queens, while reporting about a confirmed case in Manhattan is troubling,” Stavisky said. “This does nothing but further the misconceptions that are hurting many people and businesses in my district.”
Posting a picture of an Asian man in Flushing, Queens while reporting about a confirmed case in Manhattan is troubling. This does nothing but further the misconceptions that are hurting many people and businesses in my district. https://t.co/pakm9K2pol
— Toby Ann Stavisky (@tobystavisky) March 2, 2020
On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that a 39-year-old woman, who lives in Manhattan, contracted the virus while in Iran. According to Cuomo, the woman is currently isolated in her home, saying, “She’s not in serious condition, but does have respiratory symptoms.”
Following the use of the image from the New York Post, many Twitter users expressed anger and said the photo perpetuates fearmongering and discrimination against the Asian American community.
Councilman Peter Koo also took to Twitter, saying, “This pic is Flushing, not Manhattan. A reminder: viruses are colorblind.”
This pic is Flushing, not Manhattan. A reminder: viruses are colorblind. https://t.co/XLfLbQ3jqz
— Peter Koo (@CMPeterKoo) March 2, 2020
Councilmember Barry Grodenchik said, “I appreciate the story about #Coronavirus but what is with the picture? Main St. in #Flushing is a long way from #Manhattan.”
— Barry Grodenchik (@BarryGrodenchik) March 2, 2020
Amid the coronavirus scare, Congresswoman Grace Meng, first vice chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), is urging other members of congress to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation related to the coronavirus by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information about the illness.
This includes information on how the virus spreads and how Americans should protect themselves.
“The coronavirus is a menace to public health, and we must provide clear facts to ensure that Americans have the truth about the virus,” Meng said at a CAPAC press conference on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28. “My district in Queens has one of the largest Asian American populations in the nation, and I continue to hear about Asian-owned businesses being impacted because people are afraid to visit these establishments. Congress must demonstrate resolute leadership and the first step is to convey facts, not misinformation.”
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been a surge in reports of discrimination and violent attacks against Asian Americans across the country, according to Meng. Many of these attacks have been instigated and fueled by misinformation, including misconceptions that AAPIs are more likely to carry and spread the virus, or conspiracy theories that China created the coronavirus in a lab.