President Donald Trump had a physical reminder to refer to COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, as “the Chinese virus” in his notes for his press conference on Thursday.
A photo taken by Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford shows that Trump or a White House staffer had crossed out “Corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” in his notes prior to the presser, during which Trump repeatedly used the phrase “Chinese virus.”
“I don’t think it’s racist at all,” he said of the term.
The President has taken to pointedly referring to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” in recent days, ignoring concerns that doing so stigmatizes Chinese-Americans and makes them targets for racial discrimination.
Trump denied on Wednesday that his phrasing was racist and claimed that he has “great love for all of the people from our country.” He asserted that his use of the term was a response to a Chinese diplomat claiming without evidence that U.S. soldiers had started the virus outbreak in Wuhan, China.
“It’s not gonna happen, not as long as I’m president,” Trump said. “It comes from China.”
That was the same day Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization (WHO), warned against using that term.
“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank,” he said during a press conference. “So it’s really important we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus.”
In fact, WHO deliberately chose the term “COVID-19” back in February because the organization wanted a label that “did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people.”
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.