Health experts try to ease coronavirus concerns in San Francisco's Chinatown
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco leaders are working to soothe concerns in the city's Chinese American community as the rumor mill about the coronavirus continues to churn.
Fears over the deadly virus have shaken San Francisco's Chinatown.
Tuesday the city held a community meeting aimed at quelling any rumors and getting reliable information to all of San Francisco's communities.
"Right now there are a total of 11 cases in the United States," said Dr. Grant Colfax from San Francisco's Department of Public Health. "Six in California, four in the Bay Area. There are no confirmed newly diagnosed cases in San Francisco at this time."
Jain Zhang from Chinese Hospital in San Francisco which serves Chinatown, says the timing of coronavirus coincides with the arrival of the Lunar New Year, a time when many people traveled to see family. That, in turn, is fueling rumors.
Some restaurants have seen a 30% to 50% decrease in business since coronavirus began making headlines.
"People were saying 'oh these people came back from China they're working at so-and-so's restaurant.'" said Zhang. "Please, do not spread rumors like that, it makes people panic."
Tuesday's meeting included community leaders who were able to ask questions, get answers, and take those answers back to people living in Chinatown.
"I get a lot of people calling me for masks. At this point there's no need to panic to get to wear masks because according to the CDC the risk is low," said Zhang.
For now, medical experts are stressing that people need to rely on accurate scientific data to respond to coronavirus and the best way to avoid catching it or other illnesses is by practicing good hygiene.
"Wash your hands. All the time, wash with soap for at least 20 seconds. If you don't have that use the alcohol bases hand sanitizer too,"said Zhang.