Fear regarding the coronavirus proves to be contagious at Marshall. As the number of cases increases worldwide, students wearing masks have become a regular sighting in and around the building.

China first reported the novel coronavirus in the city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2019. Three weeks later, 16 Chinese students from Beijing arrived as part of Marshall’s Chinese exchange program.

In light of worldwide responses to the coronavirus, there are perceptions of xenophobia toward people of Chinese and Asian descent.

“It’s unfortunate that the outbreak happened around the same time as the exchange,” senior and Chinese exchange program participant Katriel Recepcion said. “I obviously understand people’s concern over a fast-spreading disease, but just because they came from China, it does not mean they have the coronavirus.”

The U.S. currently has 12 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. But worries began arising as rumors of two students infected with the coronavirus at George Mason University (GMU) made headlines.

“My dad stopped me from hanging out outside the house because he heard of the possible cases,” senior Jennifer Nguyen said. “I also know people at [GMU], so it’s good to hear no one actually has it.”

While the Virginia Department of Health confirmed both tests have come back negative, Marshall students are still taking precautions by wearing masks to school.

“How uninformed the public is feeds [to] our paranoia,” senior Eli Osborne said. “We don’t have a clue about the disease. That’s where the breathing masks come into play.”

But Business Insider reported the face masks have a slim chance of protecting against illness.

“A lot of people are getting sick very fast, but I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation being spread,” Recepcion said. “I know there was a possible case at [GMU], and being so close to home is concerning, but I read [that] standard things like washing [your] hands and coughing into your arm are the most helpful to avoid infection.”