<< Back

When COVID-19 Turns to Attacks Against Millennials, Asian Americans

March 25, 2020

A 20-something professional was running on a trail near her house this week to expend excess energy and anxiety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when she was ambushed by the nasty comments of an older woman walking nearby.

“Millennials! That’s why this is happening!” the older woman yelled, referring to reports that younger people who ignore quarantine directives are spreading the virus to more fragile seniors.

Emergencies like this pandemic can bring out the very best in some, but also ignite ugliness spawned by fear and misinformation in others. Besides millennials, Asian Americans are also feeling the ire of people who blame them for the spread of COVID-19 from China, where the pandemic began, to the rest of the world.

Sarah Lewis, vice president of health equity at Hartford HealthCare, said there is a history of “scapegoating” members of racial and ethnic minorities during times of public health crises.

“Across the country, we have seen instances of verbal and physical abuse towards people of Asian descent. Some of our own staff has suffered from this abuse,” she said. “These racist acts are unacceptable and against everything that we stand for as an organization.

“It is important to understand that these sorts of attacks can have severe consequences for the people who experience them, in terms of the effects on their physical and mental health.”

These are people, she added, who might already be marginalized and discriminated against in other ways.

Instead of hate, Lewis urged people to take a breath before speaking and think and act compassionately, not with blame.

“This threat that we are facing is larger than any one person, larger than any one demographic,” she said. “If we are going to get through it, we need to rely on and help one another.

“It is normal to be scared. We are all scared and uncertain of what comes next. This moment is unlike any most of us has ever lived through. But fear of the unknown is no excuse for hurting others. When fear emerges, and it will, take a deep breath. Then choose compassion – for yourself, for your family, for your neighborhood, for us all.”

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.