Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. 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.
Some groups of people who may be experiencing stigma because of COVID-19 include:
- Persons of Asian descent
- People who have traveled
- Emergency responders or healthcare professionals
Stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger toward other people.
What We Can Do to Prevent Stigma
- Rely on and share trusted sources of information
- Speak up if you hear, see, or read stigmatizing or harassing comments or misinformation
- Show compassion and support for individuals and communities more closely impacted
- Avoid stigmatizing people who are in quarantine. They are making the right choice for their communities
- Do not make assumptions about someone's health status based on their ethnicity, race or national origin