WESTCHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than 7,000 miles from the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan, China, there is a concern in New York about one population being unfairly feared.
In these chilly winter months, Chinese restaurants in the Tri-State Area should be plating their delicious dishes the most, but the tables are far from bustling with customers, reports CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
In fact, Hunan Village II in the hamlet of Hartsdale hardly has any business.
“It’s really bad, empty,” said employee Gloria Cheng. “Not only me, the whole block.”
Cheng can’t be sure it’s because of coronavirus concerns, but she knows it’s been a worry worldwide and in Westchester where 26 people are currently under quarantine after possible exposure abroad.
“People are so nervous,” she said.
“This is an international problem but has impacted people in Greenburgh,” Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
Feiner says about 90,000 people live in town, and nearly 11,000 are of Asian ethnicity.
“I know there’s some discrimination going on,” said Feiner.
“Fear of the disease becomes connected with fear of people,” said Sarah Henry of the Museum of the City of New York.
Henry says history has shown cultural profiling during illness outbreaks is common but not constructive.
“You have to watch out carefully to be realistically alert but not alarmist, because your fears can snowball and have unintended consequences,” she said.
Feiner says one of his biggest concerns is for people living in Greenburgh with relatives in China directly impacted by the coronavirus there.
“I want people who have relatives in China to feel we are there for them,” he said.
Back at Hunan Village, the employees all have family they’re checking on in China, but they want everyone to know they’re open for business.
“Nothing to be afraid, nothing to be nervous,” said Cheng.