Pelosi Lunches in SF Chinatown, Lending Support to Businesses Amid Coronavirus Fears

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walks through Chinatown in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a walking tour of San Francisco's Chinatown on Monday as part of an effort to calm fears around the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it has now been named.

Pelosi addressed concerns about tourism and reassured the public that the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low in the U.S., adding that she thinks the fear is "unwarranted in light of the precautions that are being taken here in the United States."

"I have confidence in Dr. Fauci at the National Institutes of Health, who has further confidence in what we're doing," Pelosi said.

Pelosi took aim instead at the Trump administration, saying, "I do have concern that the President's budget cut 19% of the Centers for Disease Control."

Monday, the Trump administration indicated it will request emergency funds to bolster coronavirus response efforts, but declined to specify how much.

Over the weekend, reported cases of the virus in other countries jumped, namely in Iran, Italy and South Korea.

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The World Health Organization said Monday morning that it won't label the outbreak a global pandemic just yet.

Bay Area residents remain at low risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 unless they have recently traveled to mainland China or have come in close contact with someone who was sick and was recently there, said Veronica Vien, a public information officer with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "It's important to remember that a person's risk for this virus depends on travel history — not on race, ethnicity or culture."

San Francisco's conference circuit has been feeling the impact of the virus, as big tech companies like IBM and AT&T Cybersecurity pulled out of a major digital security convention, and Facebook canceled its Global Marketing Summit next month, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exits the Tin How Temple in Chinatown in San Francisco on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exits the Tin How Temple in Chinatown in San Francisco on Feb. 24, 2020. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Pelosi said she visited Chinatown after hearing that businesses were suffering from decreased tourism because of fears over the virus. She walked alongside Florence Fang, her son Ted Fang, and Rev. Norman Fong, the outgoing executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, among others.

Pelosi stopped by popular Chinatown tourist spots, including the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, whose owner Kevin Chan said his business and others are down 70% since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“Come to Chinatown,” Pelosi said. “Precautions have been taken by our city, we know that there's concern about tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it's very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”

This story includes reporting by The Associated Press.

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