Chinatown Lunar Parade for Sunday as coronavirus scare continues

Council Speaker Corey Johnson tries to allay fears to urge visitors to attend the Lunar Parade on Sunday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The Chinatown community is moving forward with Sunday’s Lunar New Year Parade tomorrow as four of five people who were quarantined for suspected coronavirus have been cleared of the deadly epidemic that originated in China.

Still, officials fear visitors and residents might stay away from the parade on Feb. 9, expected to start at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. at Chatham Square in Manhattan. Numerous streets will be closed in Chinatown, so officials urge visitors to use mass transit.

It’s been a tough ‘Year of the Rat’ for Chinatown and other Asian communities around the city as the coronavirus has scared many people, some taking to wearing masks to prevent themselves from getting the virus. The good news, however, is there have been no reported cases in New York City thus far, and a fifth person is said to be in stable condition in a city hospital, though officials have released no further information on this last person.

Elected officials and Chinatown community leaders invited the public to Feb 9 Chinatown New Year’s celebration, and tried to ally fears about the coronavirus that has ravaged China and scared people around the world. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Chinatown has also suffered a huge loss of their community center that also housed the Museum of Chinese Americans archives. Streets around Mulberry Street and Bayard Street have wooden barriers around the building, sealed off for safety reasons.

Officials at a Feb. 2 press conference in Chinatown acknowledged that business in Chinatown, Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park Chinese communities has dropped as a result of the coronavirus, which originated in China. The latest information has indicated that 750 people globally have died from the virus.

Though no confirmed cases in NYC have been reported, the panic over coronavirus have caused some people to wearing masks – including several teenagers who were present for the dragon dance entertainment.

Officials tried to assuage fears of the virus last week and continued their outreach. As Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Feb. 7 press conference, influenza remains a more prevalent threat to New Yorkers’ health. 

Queens state Senator John Liu said the virus has not only caused “unreasonable fears,” but he said, “I’ve been somewhat disturbed if not outright appalled at some of the comments and gestures that I’ve seen and my constituents have seen against the Asian community.”

“There is no need to cast aspersions on an entire community because this is happening,” Liu charged. “Diseases originate in particular places in the world and this came from an area of China which is a very large country. The comments being made by some people are unreasonable, if not downright offensive.”

He assured the crowd that “every precaution” was being taken – just like every flu season, and asserted that there is no reason to anyone to panic or avoid the activities in Chinatown or anywhere else.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson urged visitors to enjoy the Lunar New Year parade.

“I am really excited for this parade, no only to celebrate Lunar New Year, but also to show my support to the Chinese community,” Johnson said on Saturday. “A lot of businesses and restaurants count on Lunar New Year for a boost in customers but we’re hearing that many customers are afraid to come out due to the fear of the coronavirus. Those fears are not based on science, and I urge everyone to dine and shop in Chinatown as usual. I know everyone will have an amazing time tomorrow. Gong Hey Fa Choy!” 

Dr. Barbot said it was “understandable that people were anxious when there is something new or something they don’t understand and something that may change on our daily basis.”

“The importance of events like this is to share with New Yorker’s the reality that there is some things that we know, some things we don’t know and we are still learning,” Dr. Barbot said recently. “The risk for New Yorker’s of the coronavirus is low, and our preparedness as a city is very high. While it is understandable that people feel anxious, that is no way shape or form an excuse for them to use that as an opportunity to spread misinformation, to spread racist ideas because that is currently the greatest risk to New Yorker’s.”

Again, health officials emphasized for those recently in Hubei province China — or have been in contact with someone who has traveled to the affected area and was ill — and are now experiencing symptoms of this novel coronavirus:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a health care provider’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. Hospital staff will not ask you about your immigration status.
  • After you have been seen by a health care provider, stay home and avoid contact with others until you are well. Wear a face mask if you need to leave your home when sick.
  • Avoid travel on any public transportation (such as bus, subway, train or airplane) until you feel better.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

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