NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York City Commission on Human Rights has formed a COVID-19 response team to look into harassment and discrimination related to the coronavirus outbreak.

There have been 248 reports of harassment and discrimination related to the outbreak since February, the commission said in a statement. Forty percent of the incidents targeted Asians. By way of comparison, the commission received just just five reports of anti-Asian discrimination at the same time last year.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“In this time of unparalleled crisis, the NYC Commission on Human Rights is dedicated to responding to and investigating reports of bias, harassment and discrimination related to the COVID-19 outbreak in our city,” said NYC Commission on Human Rights chair Carmelyn Malalis. “Our team of Law Enforcement Bureau and Community Relations Bureau staff are synchronizing their efforts to track and respond to these reports quickly, intervening immediately where possible, and filing cases where necessary. All New Yorkers are facing extraordinary levels of stress right now; discrimination and harassment should not be among them.”

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Under New York City’s Human Rights Law, the commission can issue injunctions and award compensation to victims. Civil penalties can be as high as $250,000 “for willful and malicious violations of the law.”

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