Congressman Adam Smith (WA-9) visited the International Community Health Services (ICHS) medical-dental clinic in the Chinatown-International District on March 6, to address the impacts COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is having on the local Asian Pacific Islander community. The congressman joined Teresita Batayola. ICHS CEO, Dr. Asqual Getaneh, ICHS chief medical officer, and leaders from several neighboring nonprofits, including Maiko Winkler-Chin, executive director at Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, Michael Byun, executive director at Asian Counseling & Referral Service, and Nigel Lo, CEO at KinOn.
One of the key topics of discussion was how community health service providers are faring amid the outbreak. ICHS has been proactively working with public health officials in Public Health — Seattle & King County and staff of the County Executive and Seattle Mayor’s office to coordinate its response and to educate the public on personal hygiene and social distancing to decrease the risk of transmission.
“Local and state health workers across Washington are working around the clock to combat the coronavirus outbreak and I thank them for their lifesaving efforts,” said Rep. Smith.
Community leaders also discussed concerns regarding the impact on Asian-owned businesses and workers, as well as more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly. They reported an increase in anti-Asian bias and xenophobia, and shared suggestions on how the congressman and others in government could offer their support and additional resources.
“It is critical that members of the community follow guidance of health experts and avoid misinformation about coronavirus,” said. Rep. Smith. “Misinformation has led to the stigmatization of those of Asian descent based on fear and xenophobia – this is a danger to the well-being of our communities and to public health. We must remain unified and vigilant at this critical time to combat this epidemic and to uphold our resilient and diverse communities. I applaud ICHS, ACRS, Kin On, and other community partners for their dedication to protecting the health and well-being of all of our community members.”
“We appreciate Congressman Adam Smith’s longtime support – he is a strong ally as we work to address the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak together,” said Batayola. “His visit today offered a valuable chance to discuss his impact and how we can work collectively to keep our local community members safe and healthy, and help reduce the misinformed racist stigma against Asian Americans.”