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"Although I have the medical mask I don’t want to wear it" | Asian Americans afraid of coronavirus discrimination

Asian families in Maryland to talk about how they’ve been affected by the coronavirus and mask-prejudice toward their community.

BETHESDA, Md. — Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have been experiencing a lot of discrimination and prejudice as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

People question why they are wearing masks.

Are they sick? Do they have the coronavirus?

We met up with some Asian families in Maryland to talk about how they’ve been affected by the coronavirus and mask-prejudice toward their community.

"American people don’t wear masks," says Ife, a Chinese economics student at Johns Hopkins University, "and they have different ideas about why people are wearing the masks." He says that Asians don't just wear masks because their sick or have contracted the coronavirus. "They want to protect themselves and protect others."

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Johns Hopkins economics student speaks about discrimination against Asians in America

Ife’s parents live in China where they have a Level 3 designation for the virus. That means all nonessential travel is restricted. A few days ago they asked him if he wanted to come home because they believe he would be safer there.

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People wearing masks in Asia

"The government in China needs everybody to wear the masks before they go out," Ife told us. "If they do not have the masks they can’t go out."

He believes that’s why Asian countries are seeing improvement in the number of new cases. 

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This chart from the CDC shows the new cases are decreasing in Asia while they are increasing in the United States. But Ife says the travel ban makes him hesitant to go back.

"I personally worry so much ... but I still want to stay here because I still need to finish my school, my degree," said the Johns Hopkins economic student. 

But wearing the mask every day as his parents would prefer is not an easy decision for him.

"Although I have the medical mask I don’t want to wear it, he said." "So that’s really a tough decision."

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Namino Iwamoto discusses the impact of coronavirus on her family

Namino Iwamoto is from Japan and lives in Bethesda with her husband and 17-month-old son. She says her biggest issue is getting the information she needs to stay safe.

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"Because the TV is too fast for me to listen, so I get the information by Twitter, the new mom explained.

Iwamoto's parents and mother-in-law are still in Japan. They have been texting her instructions in Japanese for how to stay safe.

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Namino Iwamoto gets text from Mother-in-law in Japan about how to stay safe from coronavirus

"She says that washing hands is good to prevent infection," Iwamoto translated a text sent from her mother-in-law. "And that just walking in the street is not dangerous."

Thankfully, neither Ife nor Namino has experienced any direct discrimination, but they acknowledged that both of their families are worried about that for them.

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