Rep. Paul Gosar, the Arizona Republican, fired back at social media criticism after he referred to the deadly disease known widely as the coronavirus as the Wuhan Virus.
Gosar is one of the members in Congress who decided to self-quarantine after coming into contact with the attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference who has since been diagnosed with the virus.
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Wuhan, China, is at the center of the coronavirus epidemic. The Gosar tweet caught the attention of several Twitter users who called it tone-deaf and xenophobic. The World Health Organization last month changed the name of the illness to Covid-19.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted in response, “Just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan Virus.”
Gosar, a former dentist, was a guest on the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Tuesday and said the negative reaction to his tweet is simply another example of the left’s deep hatred for President Trump.
“The last time I looked, the Democrats called it the Wuhan virus,” Gosar told Todd Starnes. He pointed to other diseases, like the Ebola virus—which is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo—and asked if those names should also be changed.
Ben Goldey, a Gosar spokesman, told the Washington Post that the congressman’s use of the name “did not have some sinister undertone or meaning.”
The disease was referred to as the Wuhan Virus when it first emerged by a number of news outlets, including the Washington Post. The Post reported that WHO decided to change the name, in part, so no group of people feel stigmatized.
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The New York Times reported that in 2015, health officials worked to come up with improved ways to name viruses and came up with new guidelines.
Finding the precise location of where disease originates can be a daunting task for epidemiologists. The New York Times reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is still unclear where the Spanish flu originated.
Beijing called out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who also referred to the disease as the Wuhan Virus. The Chinese foreign ministry said his reference to the disease was a “despicable practice.”
“The only people who seem outraged by the term ‘Wuhan Virus’ are those whose primary goal is to continue,” Goldey wrote in an email obtained by the Times. “Our priority is ensuring the health and safety of the American people, not debating the use of the term ‘Wuhan virus.’”
Gosar said his self-quarantine is going well and warned seniors with underlying conditions to avoid going out into public.
“These are some of the folks who should not be out, running around,” he said.