Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney traveled to the Chinatown district for lunch in an effort to combat anti-Chinese sentiment related to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Last Thursday afternoon, Kenney was joined by Philadelphia’s Managing Director Brian Abernathy, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, and city councilman Mark Squilla for lunch at Ocean Harbor restaurant, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Come back to Chinatown and eat — it’s great,” Kenney told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Chinatown is safe. The city is safe. America is safe. Everybody should relax.”
Chinatown residents said worries of the coronavirus have caused a decrease in the number of people eating out at restaurants, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Philadelphia Inquirer added that the lack of business has led to financial losses for local restaurants and grocery stores. Ocean Harbor staff said four banquets had been canceled during one of their busiest times of the year, The Inquirer reported.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the coronavirus has led many Asian people to field “vitriolic attacks in public spaces, including suspicious looks,” xenophobic comments, and people running to avoid them.
The racist acts have led Asian people to push back on Twitter with the hashtag “#IamNotAVirus” in condemnation of the sentiment, according to The Inquirer.
Ocean Harbor’s manager Jess Wong said later that day, however, the mayor’s visit brought “a lot of people” to the restaurant for dinner that night.
Coronaviruses are a large, very common family of viruses, according to The New York Times. The new strain originally broke out in Wuhan, China and was detected by Chinese authorities on Dec. 31, according to The Washington Post.
The coronavirus has caused 908 deaths in China and 40,171 total cases have been confirmed, according to The New York Times.
A 60-year-old U.S. citizen diagnosed with the coronavirus died at Wuhan's Jinyintan Hospital on Thursday, marking the first known American death from the virus, The Wall Street Journal reported.
There are no reported cases in Pennsylvania and the risk to the Penn community remains low, according to an email sent from Penn administrators to students on Feb. 5. College sophomore Zhexuan Huang, however, remains stranded in his home city Wuhan, which is on lockdown, and has been forced to take a leave of absence from Penn this semester.
On Jan. 31, the Trump administration declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel warning to the highest level, advising against all “non-essential travel to China,” on Jan. 25, according to USA Today.
Penn has recommended that all students, faculty, and staff returning from mainland China self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the United States, according to the email sent on Feb. 5.