Coronavirus is Harming the Pittsburgh Economy

Local Chinese, Jewish communities partner to counteract negative impact

The Organization of Chinese Americans-Pittsburgh Chapter and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh announced a partnership with elected officials to help combat the negative impact on the local economy caused by a fear of contracting coronavirus.

Coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) has wreaked havoc on communities in ways that extend beyond public health. Fear of being exposed to the virus is damaging Pittsburgh’s economy despite no announced cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. There are 90 Asian restaurants in the East End of Pittsburgh and nearly 30 in Squirrel Hill, and many of them have dramatically lower revenue due to unwarranted fear of contamination.

“Public health experts note that the many reasons people are citing for avoiding Chinese and Asian restaurants and businesses right now are unfounded,” said Marian Lien, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

“Despite the fact that most respiratory viruses like the new coronavirus are passed from person to person and not through food, misinformation and false rumors have contributed to a wave of Sinophobia [anti-Chinese sentiment] and are harming our community’s ability to earn a living.”

Marian Lien, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans-Pittsburgh

The irrational fear of COVID-19 extends beyond Pittsburgh and has created negative economic effects in major U.S. cities as people falsely associate Americans of Chinese descent with all people who have contracted the virus.

“In a community such as Squirrel Hill, where we have been rightly laser-focused on combating anti-Semitism, we have an obligation to support all communities targeted by racism,” added Josh Sayles, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “In this current climate, that means making a concerted effort to frequent local Asian restaurants and businesses and not assuming the worst when an Asian person appears to have a cough or cold.”

A lunchtime press conference in partnership with the Mayor’s office and other elected officials will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, March 6, at Night Market Gourmet, 114 Atwood St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

WHAT: Press conference to fight the economic hardship caused by coronavirus
WHEN: 4 p.m. Friday, March 6
WHERE: Night Market Gourmet, 114 Atwood St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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