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CDC Issues Guidance Aimed at Reducing Coronavirus Stigma

News outlets around the country report increased incidents of xenophobia, racism, harassment, and other cruelty toward certain groups as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC recently issued helpful facts and other information about the coronavirus with the intention of reducing the stigmas associated with COVID-19. The CDC notes that stressful public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic cause fear and anxiety, which in turn lead to social stigmas. The CDC notes that stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a community, larger population or even nationality. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others. The CDC suggests the following ways to counter harmful stigma:

  • Maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of any contact investigation.
  • Quickly communicate the risk or lack of risk from associations with products, people, and places.
  • Raise awareness about COVID-19 without increasing fear.
  • Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.
  • Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
  • Be cautious about the images that are shared. Make sure they do not reinforce stereotypes.
  • Engage with stigmatized groups in person and through media channels including news media and social media.
  • Thank healthcare workers and responders. People who have traveled to areas where the COVID-19 outbreak is happening to help have performed a valuable service to everyone by helping make sure this disease does not spread further.
  • Share the need for social support for people who have returned from China or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region.