Coronavirus rumors hurting Chinatown businesses in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston leaders said coronavirus rumors are impacting Chinatown, and they're worried it could create problems if an outbreak were to occur.

ABC13 spoke with Chinatown shoppers on Wednesday who saw the social media rumors.

"I think it does create panic because I consider myself a well-informed person," Che Lee explained. "Even I was taken back to take the trouble to find out what's going on."

The social media chatter caused some shoppers to take precautions. "My reaction is, I'm going to wear a mask myself, to do that to protect myself," Tracy Wing said.

While there's a concern, city and state leaders held a news conference Wednesday to stress what people are seeing online isn't true.

The Houston Health Department says no businesses in Chinatown have been shut down.

Leaders said the rumors are causing loss in revenue for several businesses. "Universally, every single one of those scares, warnings, or alerts are all universally false," State Representative, Gene Wu said.

There's growing concern about the coronavirus impacting thousands in China.

But the virus isn't in the Houston area. Health officials said there haven't been any confirmed cases and spreading rumors they say may scare others from reporting symptoms.

"We want people coming forward," Houston Health Department spokesperson Dr. David Persse explained. "We don't want them to feel persecuted. We don't want them to think the media is going to come camp out in front of their house."

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