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Hateful coronavirus comments directed at Mesa’s Asia District

(City of Mesa Photo)

MESA — The Valley’s Asian community, particularly in Mesa, has been getting hateful comments related to the coronavirus outbreak centered in China.

Customers are calling the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce expressing fear of eating or shopping at the Asian District along a 2-mile stretch on Dobson Road in west Mesa.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Why are your people bringing diseases here?’ and just other very ignorant and egregiously misguided things,” chamber CEO Vicente Reid said.

Reid is educating those callers, especially before the Asian Night Market to support restaurants and small businesses in that community on Feb. 29.

“It allows people to actually come see our community and see that we’re just like them,” Reid said. “We’re fantastic. We’re amazing.”

As of Wednesday, more than 75,000 people globally had been infected with the coronavirus, about 74,000 in mainland China. About 2,000 people have died.

The United States has seen about a dozen cases, including one in Arizona, with no fatalities.

Mesa Mayor John Giles called the xenophobia directed at the Asian Night Market “ridiculous.”

“We certainly take any health crisis seriously, but to make those kinds of connections is just offensive,” he said.

Giles assured people the market and the restaurants and businesses that operate daily at the Asian District are perfectly safe.

“Just because we’re Asian, we don’t inherently carry a disease of some kind,” Reid said, laughing.

“If people really worried about health, they’d be calling the Suns, they’d be calling the Renaissance Festival and places where there’s a lot of people gathering. But they’re not.”

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