AMA Condemns Terms for COVID-19 As Xenophobic and Racist

May 4, 2020

The American Medical Association (AMA) today called on public officials and the media to utilize the World Health Organization’s nomenclature for the pandemic - the coronavirus or COVID-19 - and to abstain from using racially charged and xenophobic language that associates the virus with geography or populations of people.

The American Medical Association (AMA) today called on public officials and the media to utilize the World Health Organization’s nomenclature for the pandemic - the coronavirus or COVID-19 - and to abstain from using racially charged and xenophobic language that associates the virus with geography or populations of people.

Amid reports of individuals and organizations encouraging use of language like “the Wuhan virus,” “the Chinese coronavirus,” and similar variations, the AMA said in a press release that this language serves no legitimate purpose and is “ethically inappropriate, derogatory and divisive.

“With the world reeling from the health and economic crisis of COVID-19, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric exacerbates the pandemic, threatening people’s well-being and driving us further apart,” AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A., said in a press release.

President Trump has referred to SARS-CoV-2 as the Chinese virus. The AMA statement came as the he and other officials in his administration put blame of various kinds and degrees on the Chinese government for causing the pandemic.

On call-in show on Fox News Sunday night that was filmed from Lincoln Memorial, the president said the Chinese allowed flights out of Wuhan, where the pandemic started, to other countries but not to other places in China. “You could fly out of Wuhan and you could go to different parts of the world, but you couldn’t go to Beijing [or] any place in China. So what’s that all about?”

A little later Trump added, “They allowed this to go into our country. They allowed it to go into other countries.”

Trump was asked about his statement last he saw evidence that gave him high confidence that the virus came from a Wuhan lab. He responded: “We’re going to be given a very strong report as to exactly what we think happened. And I think it will be very conclusive” Asked whether if there was any suggestion that was anything nefarious or just a mistake, Trump said, “So, personally, I think they made a horrible mistake and they didn’t want to admit it. We wanted to go in. They didn’t want us there. Even World Health [Organization] wanted to go in. They were admitted, but much later.”