Virus super spreader stories take racial stereotyping viral

Independent headline says "Coronavuirius: What is a super-spreader and how do they change disease outbreaks: Is it demonising by the media or a useful medical term?An observation and my opinion:

One of this week’s top coronavirus story is about super spreaders. While most people who spread the virus give it to just one or two people, a very few give it to dozens. Part of it is their travel patterns or exposure to other people. And there seems to be something about them that makes them more contagious. Doctors are trying to figure out what that is. One of the super spreaders outbreaks in the news this week affected 11 people in Britain.

The Independent ran this headline:


Beneath it appeared the subhead:

Is it demonising by the media or a useful medical term?

Employing the “Asian hordes”  sterotype, the paper ran a large photo above both headlines that showed a crowd of Chinese people wearing surgical masks walking toward the photographer.

That image and the headlines plant the impression that this is a crowd of Asians intent on spreading the disease. For obvious reasons, the image is not being reproduced here.

For the record, the super spreader in the news this week is a 53-year-old scout leader. He is not Asian. His race is immaterial. Race has nothing more to do with his contagiousness than being a scout leader does.

Thoughtless photo selection perpetuates stereotypes.

You can order Bias Busters cultural competence guides from Amazon.

— Joe Grimm


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