NYC Patients Test Negative for Coronavirus, but New Yorkers Continue to Fret

The six New York City residents and one non-resident who were under observation for possible coronavirus have tested negative for the disease, according to a tweet posted Wednesday by the city’s Department of Health.

The virus was first reported in December and connected to a food market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the breakout, which has been on lockdown since late January.  The death toll has risen to 1,310. However, only three people have died outside China, and none in the U.S.  

Meanwhile, New Yorkers still worry about the coronavirus. Last week, two teenagers pranked people in the subway by dressing up in full-body hazmat suits and pretended to spill a vat of COVID-19, according to the New York Post. The video shows some commuters screaming and running away from the spill, whereas some remained calm knowing it was a prank. 

In other cases, the fear of coronavirus has gone beyond teenage pranks. As the count increases, officials and members of the Asian and Chinese communities worry about what they see as an increase in xenophobia in the city. Several days ago, the NYPD shared a video in which a woman wearing a medical facemask was attacked at a Manhattan Chinatown subway station after allegedly being called “diseased bitch.”

“I’ve been disheartened by reports of bias and discrimination against the Asian community recently,” wrote NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot in a tweet. “Let me be clear – our public health response is about a virus, not a group of people.”

The fear of coronavirus has also hampered some business in New York City.  According to the New York Times, tour operators and travel agents in the New York area are bracing for the economic pain that came with empty rooms in hotels and empty seats on tour buses. Still, beyond a plunge in Chinese visitors, owners of restaurants and stores in New York’s three main Chinatowns — in Lower Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; and Sunset Park, Brooklyn — say the coronavirus and the fears it has stoked are hurting business. 

“The Chinatown community has been through so much in the past month — but you wouldn’t know it from the joy, spirit and perseverance I saw in the neighborhood,” wrote Mayor Bill De Blasio in a tweet. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only six states in the United States have confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 13 positive cases and another 60 still pending. Those states are Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, or shortness of breath with infection being the severe symptom which can ultimately cause fatal death. Health officials said those who are  experiencing any symptoms and want to get tested should talk to a healthcare provider. 

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