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Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy,

On behalf of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), and the undersigned organizations, we urge you to call for unity, and publicly denounce the increase in racist attacks and discrimination against the Asian American community, in the wake of rising concerns over the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

We have witnessed with increasing alarm, incidents all over the country targeting the Asian American community in connection to COVID-19. For example, in San Fernando, CA, a 16-year old Asian American boy was physically attacked at school because he was accused of having the coronavirus. In Plymouth, IN, two Hmong men were denied service at hotels under the false assumption that they were Chinese and carrying the coronavirus. In New York, a woman wearing a facemask, who was believed to be Asian, was physically and verbally assaulted in a subway station.

In communities across the nation, Asian American businesses are seeing a significant decline in customers, as fear of a viral outbreak spreads globally. Even some businesses that have been long-established fixtures within their communities, have suffered a 70% to 80% loss of business. Other businesses, many in major U.S. cities, are considering closing after hearing false rumors of people getting sick. This economic impact is also taking a toll on the families that own these businesses as well. Moreover Asian Americans are facing discrimination in their workplaces. Workers in retail, hospitality, and healthcare sectors are hearing about customers and patients requesting to interact “non-Asian” staff. As Asian-American shift workers become targets of discrimination, they risk losing income from less shifts scheduled.

The stigma associated with COVID-19 originating in China leads some to assume that any person of perceived Asian ancestry might be sick, harming Asian American communities all over the country. Local efforts to curb xenophobia, like city officials reminding the public that it is safe to visit their local Chinatown are helpful, but we believe more needs to be done.

On February 26, 2020, the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) circulated a letter to Members of Congress, urging them to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information pertaining to COVID-19, how it spreads, and how Americans should protect themselves. We call on you to do the same. In the face of this growing threat, the American people need to hear from leaders such as yourselves, that we must face these circumstances together, rather than allow fear and misinformation to divide us.

While we recognize the growing public health and economic threat the virus poses, our nation must come together during this difficult time. We need leadership grounded in truth and committed to taking on racism and xenophobia directly. We urge House and Senate leadership to take tangible steps to counter the hysteria around the novel coronavirus, such as passing a joint resolution denouncing the racism, xenophobia, and misinformation surrounding it. We ask that you act swiftly to ensure that violent racism and economic loss, rooted in fear and misinformation is mitigated.

We thank you for your leadership during this time of uncertainty and stand ready to do our part in fighting racism.

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