Stigma, “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person,” as Oxford Dictionary defines it has been attached to several diseases, socioeconomic status and more over the years — COVID-19 or the coronavirus is no different.

Even so, the CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, goes as far to dedicate a page on their website to remind the public of the importance of reducing its stigma.

Because it was first identified in Wuhan China, many have come under fire for referring to it as the “Chinese virus” including President Donald Trump, and there have been reports of those with Asian descent being ostracized or harmed because of it.

An FBI analysis reported at the end of March a surge in reports of hate crimes and lists a series of incidents from Los Angeles to New York to Texas.

The CDC also warns that in addition to persons of Asian descent, people who have traveled and emergency responders or health care professionals also could experience stigma related to COVID-19 which could lead to social avoidance, rejection, denials of healthcare, education, housing or employment and physical violence.

They also warn that those who have been released from COVID-19 quarantine could also experience the stigma.

When new cases arise in the area, it almost feels like a witch hunt to figure out who contracted the case and where.

To me it seems unrealistic to know everywhere the person has went in the past two weeks or more. It’s also possible the person doesn’t know where he or she contracted it, or how long they have carried the virus.

Dr. Scott Spillmann warned at a recent Halifax County Board of Supervisors meeting that someone could be “asymptomatic,” which means one could be a carrier of the virus and not show any symptoms.

He said someone who is asymptomatic may not show symptoms for 48 hours or “could even be a week or more before they develop full blown symptoms.”

So how would one expect to know every move that person made for a week or more? It’s not possible.

As Spillmann and other health officials have said, the public should just assume anyone and everyone has the virus at this point and take the necessary precautions while out in public.

Furthermore there has been concern because the health department has decided to no longer to provide specifics on positive cases.

I can presume that these cases are going to continue to rise, and with its rapid growth, it’s also unrealistic to provide information on every single person who has the virus. Also, it has been made known that some of the newer cases have not had a clear linage to how or where the person contracted the virus.

Also, many people are familiar with HIPPA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, “a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.”

It has been asserted that the media isn’t doing enough to find out who these individuals are who have COVID-19, and to be honest, I’m not sure what else they want us to do.

If the health department and hospital officials aren’t talking, who do you suggest we talk to? How do you purpose we dig up this information about who has the virus?

The hospital isn’t going to tell us, and the doctor’s offices aren’t going to tell us.

We are aware of two of the individuals who have the virus, and one came forward and decided to give an interview on her own free will. The other declined.

So now what?

And the way I see it is if you are someone who probably came in close contact with the individual, you would know.

When someone tests positive for the coronavirus, the health department tracks down contacts to inform them.

So, like I already said, just take the necessary precautions — stay home unless its completely necessary for you to go out, wash your hands and wear a mask in public — and hopefully, you’ll be protected.

Take care of yourself instead of worrying about everyone else.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at