False reports of coronavirus in Houston’s Chinatown hurting business

American Airlines has now stopped all flights departing to and arriving from China in the wake of the deadly outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus. The flight cancelations are effective immediately.

In fact, because of the coronavirus, American, United, and Delta have all announced changes regarding China flights. Now through March 27, 2020, American Airlines will not fly to or from China. Delta and United will stop service in China beginning next Thursday.

“When there’s something like this that can spread so quickly without people realizing it, I think maybe it’s wise,” says traveler Stephen Chase.

This comes as droves of Houstonians are putting on masks before going in public because of rampant rumors.

“Just in case, to protect myself,” one man said.

“Basically I don’t know who’s infected or not so I wear it just in case,” says Phu Duong.

Congressman Al Green held a news conference to stop the rumors, which claim someone in Houston’s Chinatown District has the coronavirus.

“We have no confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus,” Congressman Green told the crowd several times.

MORE: Follow the latest 2019 Novel Coronavirus developments

The Congressman even led a tour of businesses in Chinatown.

“This area of town is as safe as any other place in the state of Texas," he said. 

Some shop owners speaking through a translator say the rumor has hurt business.

“Right now no customer," one restaurant owner told the translator.

“The rumor impacted their business greatly,” the translator says about another shop.

“The grocery store business dropped about 50 percent and the restaurant supply orders dropped about 70 percent,” says the owner of Jusgo Supermarket who says his market is at the center of a social media rumor which erroneously claims one of his workers is infected.

“I want the person who is spreading these rumors to know they are causing harm and they may be subject to litigation if they persist,” warns Congressman Green.

City of Houston Medical Director Dr. David Persse addressed Houstonians wearing masks.

“I have no problem with it if that makes them feel more comfortable, but scientifically we have never been able to show that prevents spread,” Dr. Persse says covering your cough with a tissue or in the bend of your arm and washing your hands often is the best way to prevent the spread of virus. He’s also reminding residents, while thousands of people have been diagnosed in China with the coronavirus, there are five confirmed cases in the United States, none in Texas.