A 16-year-old student in Los Angeles ended up in the emergency room after suffering from physical assault brought on by fears of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The male student, who is said to be of an “Asian background,” needed to undergo an MRI due to the event, although the extent of his injuries has not been disclosed.
Local officials slammed the attack as a result of “racial backlash” and anti-Asian stereotypes. A press conference was held in downtown LA with members of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council.
“I heard of the recent incident of a young child being bullied, and actually was assaulted, because he was pointed out as being of Asian background,”
said LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, according to CBS Los Angeles
. “Children, unfortunately, repeat things that are said by other people, including their own parents.”
LA County Human Relations Executive Director Robin Toma stressed the need for people to educate themselves on their own prejudices.
“That means really checking yourself, thinking before you act and make an assumption. Are you doing something because of a gross generalization or stereotype about another group? Especially true in this instance when people are fearful,” Toma told reporters.
The attack on the middle school student is only one of many others reported in California, where the majority of the 15 confirmed cases
in the U.S. were detected.
In LA’s Carson area, a paper flyer with a fake World Health Organization seal urged the public to avoid Asian American businesses like Panda Express due to coronavirus, according to Reuters
Meanwhile, more than 14,000 people signed a petition
to close schools in the Alhambra area, which happens to have a large population of Chinese Americans, to avoid the supposed spread of the coronavirus.
So far, there is only one case of infection in LA, which has a population of 10.1 million people, according to official census data
“Our goal is to send out accurate information to all of our 80 districts, reaching over two million children, to tell them there is no need for excessive fear, that there is very minimal risk of contracting the coronavirus, and that we will not tolerate any type of bullying,” said LA County Superintendent of Schools, Debra Duardo.
It is understood that the student has started recovering from the attack. An investigation of the incident is also underway.