Coronavirus fears hit Asian-American businesses in the DMV

The Great Wall Supermarket in Rockville says business has dropped 20 percent due to fears over the Coronavirus outbreak.

Hope Chinese School, run out of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, announced on its website that the school board decided to close this Saturday and Sunday “to keep the community safe.” This is just one example of how the greater Washington D.C. area is feeling the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak in China.

Rockville, Maryland is home to one of the DC-area’s vibrant Asian-American communities. It’s there that shoppers at the Great Wall Supermarket told FOX 5 about the cancelled classes.

“The HCS Board is in close coordination with the Fairfax and Montgomery county health departments and is prepared to take additional public health actions,” read the announcement, which also says board members hope to resume classes by Saturday.

The Great Wall store manager tells FOX 5 business has also been affected.

“It did drop down our business a little bit … maybe about 20%,” Yong Chen says. Chen tells FOX 5 people have been calling to see what activity is like in the store.

Chen described one of those phone calls:

“‘Okay. Not crowded, I come,” said Chen, “I say why you talking about that? I mean, are you scared? They say they just hate crowds. I don’t know if there’s a connection or not. I just know it did have people concerned. Even my mom.”

Chen says the store’s items come from farms in Pennsylvania and California, not China. Only a few shoppers were seen wearing face masks inside the business on Sunday morning.

The Rockville community also cancelled its Lunar New Year celebrations this weekend, citing Coronavirus concerns.

At least 26 countries are now reporting Coronavirus cases as the death toll continues to climb. More than 300 people have died overseas and more than 14,000 others have been infected.

Massachusetts health officials are now confirming an 8th case of Coronavirus in the United States.

As of early Sunday afternoon, there are still no confirmed Coronavirus cases in the Washington D.C. area.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been keeping the White House informed on the Coronavirus outbreak and tells FOX 5 the numbers are escalating.

Of the eight confirmed cases in the United States, however, Dr. Fauci says one thing we have not seen yet is what’s called “sustained transmission,” where it goes from one-human to another, to another.

The cases in the U.S. involve travel to Wuhan, China and one where someone was in close proximity who another who recently traveled to the impacted area.

 Fauci also tells FOX 5 people should not worry about packages or goods coming from China.

“We always talk about transmissibility if someone sneezes on a hand and touches a doorknob, virus might live for an hour or two but it’s not going to live through a trans-Atlantic freight/boat, or a trans-Pacific freight/boat, so I wouldn’t worry about that,” Fauci added.

Area travelers have also been impacted as major air carriers suspend flights to and from mainland China.

“Based on the U.S. Department of State’s recent increase of the China Travel Advisory to a Level 4 (Do Not Travel), American is suspending its operations to and from the Chinese mainland beginning today through March 27. Our teams are contacting affected customers directly to accommodate their needs. We will continue to evaluate the schedule for March 28 and beyond and make any adjustments as necessary,” American Airlines wrote in a press release issued last Friday.

Delta plans to temporarily suspend flights to China February 6th through April 30th. United announced it will do so February 6th to March 28.

At Dulles International Airport on Sunday morning, Silver Spring, Maryland’s Steve Lizama was one of only two people still seen wearing face masks as travelers came through the international arrivals gate.

Lizama said he arrived to Dulles from Ethiopia and does not want to take any chances.

“It’s concerning but I would say just play it safe. Listen to what the experts got to say,” said Lizama.

Dulles is now one of 20 airports across the country where the CDC is screening arriving travelers.