New York City Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, representing Lower Manhattan, said the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak has spurred widespread anti-Asian racism. 

Niou said over the last month, in her district and beyond, she has heard of countless incidents of racism toward Asian Americans. This includes, she said, people being called racial slurs and hearing examples of people being attacked for wearing protective masks in public and even sprayed with chemicals.

“I think there is not a single Asian American in this country that hasn’t had some kind of incident that has happened to them in recent months,” Niou said. “There are two epidemics happening right now, hand in hand. One is an actual virus and the other is xenophobia and I think right now these two epidemics have taken on our world by storm.”  

Niou also said President Donald Trump calling the illness the “Chinese virus” is encouraging racist behavior. Trump has since defended the use of the term saying it is appropriate because the virus comes from China.