Coronavirus (COVID-19): Stop the Stigma

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel virus that is spreading worldwide. Though the full clinical picture is still unknown, the majority of cases are mild and can be treated. Special care should be taken by individuals with compromised immune systems.

As the situation of COVID-19 develops, including media reports, travel restrictions, canceled events, and televised news, concerns for your own health and the health of your loved ones is normal. These concerns can bring up responses such as fear, anxiety, anger, hypervigilance, and feelings of helplessness or vulnerability.

In times like these, moderating our thoughts, feelings, and reactions is important for both ourselves and our community. While many people are careful to follow the current recommended practices like hand-washing and disinfection, most people do not consider what other habits they may be engaging in that could harm others.

Discrimination is wrong

Currently, there is an intense focus on several groups of individuals:

  • People of Asian-American descent
  • People who have traveled recently, especially outside of the U.S.
  • People who work as emergency responders and other healthcare professionals

Discrimination against all people of a nationality or occupation is wrong.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of people are at equal risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Only those who live in or have recently visited an area of ongoing viral spread, or are in direct contact with someone who has COVID-19 are at a higher risk.

Here are ways to ensure you are not spreading stigma:

  • Monitor your own thoughts and feelings. Are you feeling fear, anxiety or anger towards individuals you suspect to be of higher risk?
  • Monitor your behavior. Are you acting angrily or aggressively toward individuals you believe to be of higher risk, spreading harmful and unfounded rumors, or avoiding certain ethnic groups?
  • Learn the facts. Are you getting information from accurate sources, or potentially inaccurate ones like social media? Be sure you are using reliable sources, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the California Department of Public Health.
  • Raise awareness, not fear. Ensure any information you share about COVID-19 is accurate and does not perpetuate stereotypes. This should include sharing images which focus on any particular nationality or occupation.
  • Speak out against stigma. The fastest way to stop negative behaviors in others is to speak up! Call out others who are spreading harmful mis-information, advocating for exclusion or avoidance of specific nationalities, or using racist language when talking about COVID-19. Staying silent means that minority populations are further victimized.
  • Be supportive. If you know individuals that are being stigmatized, reach out to them and offer your support. They need to know you are here for them, especially when others are targeting them unfairly for discrimination.

Seek Help if Concerned

If you believe you have contracted COVID-19, stay at home and call 911 for a medical evaluation. Otherwise, Take time off if you are not feeling well and make sure to visit a doctor or other health professional to discuss relevant symptoms.  

For health-related inquires contact the health clinic on your respective campus.

Fresno City College: 559.442.8268                           Clovis College: 559.325.5318
Madera College: 559.675.4759                                  Reedley College: 559.638.3328

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your reactions to the recent events, or if your reaction is beginning to impact your relationships, academics, personal life, and/or general wellbeing, then you may consider contacting Psychological Services at your respective campus.

Fresno City College: 559.443.8687                           Clovis College: 559.325.5377
Madera College: 559.675.4859                                  Reedley College: 559.638.3328