In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that appears to have begun in the Hubei province of China, many countries have instituted travel bans to and from China in an attempt to contain the virus. As misinformation and rumor regarding the pandemic spreads, it runs the risk of stoking other ills, namely xenophobia and racism. There’s a long, uncomfortable history of illness-related panics resulting in discrimination against minorities, including most recently with the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014. Kevin J.A. Thomas is a Professor of Sociology, Demography, and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He has studied the Ebola virus, and he thinks there are some important lessons for us.
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