More than any other racial or ethnic group in the Sacramento area, Asian Americans believe that more has to be done to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In a CapRadio/Valley Vision poll of the eight-county capital region, Asians were the racial group most likely to be taking multiple safety precautions like maintaining 6 feet of social distance or wearing a mask and they also strongly felt that the community should be doing more to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Poll results showed that 80% of Asian respondents thought residents needed to stay focused on stopping the spread of the virus, as compared to just over half of respondents from other racial groups. The results also showed that Asian respondents were most likely out of other racial and ethnic groups to be worried about themselves or family members contracting COVID-19.
Asian Americans have experienced higher levels of racism and xenophobia since the pandemic began in March. According to Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative run by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, over 800 incidents of discrimination or racism have been recorded since the coronavirus. Manjusha Kulkarni, Executive Director of the Council said this could explain the higher overall levels of concern currently being seen in the Asian American community.
“Seventy-five percent of Asian Americans are concerned that they will be targets or victims of COVID-19-related hate incidents. Obviously that’s a very high number, so individuals are taking safety precautions,” Kulkarni said.
Additionally, safety practices to prevent the spread of germs, like wearing a mask and keeping distance are also more standard in Asian countries, so Asian Americans who have more recently immigrated might be more familiar.
“The primary piece is just culturally, Asian Americans just tend to be a little more aware of what’s happening in Asia, they became aware of coronavirus earlier than mainstream media, so they had more time to ramp up a certain concern about it,” said Daniel Sakaya, president of Crossings TV, an Asian-language television station based in Sacramento. “I think there’s also more of a sense of collective society and thinking about what your behavior is and how it impacts others around you.”
Frank Washington, founder of Crossings TV, added that he thought if other Americans had listened to Asian Americans rather than target them, the country’s response could have been stronger.
“The Asian community saw this coming, and if we were truly operating in a more melting-pot type society, that could’ve been a strength, that that could have been something deployed that really could have helped us a great deal,” he said.
Organizations like Asian Resources and the Sacramento Chinese Indo-China Friendship Association have been organizing food and mask hand-outs in neighborhoods like Little Saigon — the hub of the local Asian American business community. Linda Lui, president of the Indo-China Association, said her community believed it was important for groups to pitch in during this time.
“Our goal is to minimize the impact of COVID, and to make sure that everywhere there’s need, we do our part, regardless of how small or how big. This is a time when people need help,” Lui said. She said many of the masks they were handing out were donated from partner organizations in Vietnam.
“I think we help out and do fundraising events for people internationally, anywhere there’s help needed, we always step up and do our part,” she said. “For that reason, people from China or Vietnam call and ask if we need help and they repay the favor.”
The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council has put forward a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking that he allocate resources to the state’s public health office to help curb some of the coronavirus-related racism Asians have been feeling during the pandemic.
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