Trump: Protect 'Asian American community,' virus is 'NOT their fault'

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President Trump praised Asian-Americans on Monday, saying they are not responsible for the spreading of the coronavirus amid criticism that he has stroked racism by blaming China for the pandemic and repeatedly calling it the "China virus."

"It is very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and all around the world," Trump tweeted. "They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus.... ....is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!"

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The tweet comes as Trump and some lawmakers continue to refer to the virus as the "China virus" or "Wuhan virus," referring to the Chinese city where the pandemic first began in December 2019.

Trump has shrugged off the criticisms.

"No, not at all," Trump said during a press conference last week. "I think they probably would agree with it, 100 percent. It comes from China."

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Health officials have warned against using ethnic undertones when naming infectious diseases. Trump and other U.S. officials have blamed China for the pandemic, saying Beijing blocked news of the outbreak by silencing doctors and critics who sounded early alarms.