Rep. Gosar defends calling coronavirus ‘Wuhan virus’ after criticism

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) defended calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan virus” when announcing his self-quarantine after critics accused him of racism and xenophobia. 

Gosar responded to the disapproval by calling it “astoundingly ignorant,” saying that “major media” had also used “Wuhan virus” to refer to the current global outbreak.

Gosar’s response follows his announcement that he and three of his senior staff are under self-quarantine after interacting with the individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) who tested positive for the coronavirus. In his announcement he said the person at CPAC “has been hospitalized with the Wuhan virus.”

His mention of “Wuhan virus” drew criticism, including from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) who said it exemplifies the “myopia that allowed it to spread in the US.”

“The virus is not constrained by country or race,” he said. “Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus.”

The liberal social media activist group Sleeping Giants also responded to Gosar’s original tweet:

Gosar’s defending tweet was in response to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes who said it was “just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan virus.”

Some conservative media stood by Gosar’s comments, pointing out that multiple other diseases were named after their believed location of origin, including Lyme disease, the Zika virus and the West Nile virus.

Several media outlets referred to the virus as the “Wuhan virus” earlier in the outbreak, but the Asian American Journalists Association released guidelines discouraging it because of the phrase’s potential to stigmatize those who live there. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also asked people to stop using “Wuhan virus” to describe COVID-19, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling the potential stigma “painful to see” and “more dangerous than the virus itself.”

Tags Chris Hayes Coronavirus Paul Gosar Racism stigma Ted Lieu Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus xenophobia

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