Costco worker denies boy from China who might have coronavirus


Costco has apologized after a customer in Washington state said a food demo worker shooed his child away because she thought he was from China and could give her coronavirus. 

Devin Cabanilla said his eight-year-old boy was wearing a surgical mask while walking around the store with his mother, but when approached to see what was on display, they received offensive remarks. 

'Ugh, food sample lady told kid to get away because he may be "from China" and was worrying about getting infected #Wuhan #CoronaVirus,' Cabanilla tweeted Sunday.

'Sad my boy has to receive racial stereotyping Ironically mask makes him safer to be around' the father added, explaining that he told a supervisor.  

The dad has said his son asked to wear the mask to protect himself amid the outbreak that had infected 7,800 by Thursday - including five in the US - and killed 170.

Devin Cabanilla 

His child had seen others wearing the masks at school.  

Cabanilla explained: 'The lady there got kind of alarmed. She started by asking if they came from China. Then after that, she told them to step away because she was concerned about getting infected.' 

Public Health - Seattle and King County Dr. Jeff Duchin said six people had been tested for coronavirus in the area since January 21. Two results have been returned negative while the others are pending.

The family is not from China but the incident made then concern about prejudice. 

'We have these very bad incidents and people start stereotyping in ways they normally wouldn't,' said Cabanilla. 'I don't blame Costco at all. I know it is very incidental.' 

He got an apology from the manager of the store and after writing to the CEO of Costco, the company expressed their regret too. 

'We are very sorry this incident occurred in our location,' Executive Vice President of Administration Patrick Callans said. 'The comments to the boy were made not by a Costco employee but by an employee of an independent demo company. The demo company is taking appropriate measures with its employees.' 

Cabanilla said because the store 'took it seriously' so he feels comfortable it was an isolated incident.

Praising the way Costco handed the situation, Cabanilla tweeted that the 'only reason I felt cool the store supervisor would do something was cuz he understood quickly, w/out defensiveness, and agreed to act without hesitation'. 

But he added the incident was difficult for his family and he hopes the encounter helps people know fear of Asian American people is irrational because 'a virus infects any1 regardless nation ethnicity'.

The woman who offended the family works for third party Club Demonstration Services (CDS). 

The company said it was rolling out sensitivity training for their workers as a result of the shocking statement from the woman. 

'We extend our sincerest apology to the family that was treated inappropriately. We have the greatest respect and appreciation for Costco members and strive to make their shopping experience enjoyable through positive interactions with our team members,' CDS said in a statement on Wednesday. 

'We will be providing additional training and information to ensure that we treat everyone with the sensitivity and respect they deserve, and will further educate our staff on the coronavirus to alleviate any fears or misperceptions. 

'People are at the center of what we do, and engaging with customers respectfully as neighbors in our own community is our top priority.'  

Cabanilla said that in Bellevue where he lives, and a third of the population is Asian-American, the school district has sent him regular emails about the coronavirus threat. 

However, his friends in other districts have not received communication about it.

Now he's worried others could be treated unfairly purely based on their appearance. 

'One thing that is in the back of my mind is that someone Asian is being judged in public right now,' Cabanilla told Business Insider. 'In general, people are going to have assumptions or be casually careful around Asian people.

'What was interesting was his response was just so focused on how he looked.' 

Cabanilla describes his heritage as Filipino, Mexican, Chinese, Native and white. His wife is Korean-American. 

The unwelcome reaction from the sampler has raised a whole new set of issues at home. 

He added about how the encounter has changed his son: 'His two responses that I remember him saying were: did they really think I'm from China? Is it because of the way mom looks?' 

'The painful part was hearing my 8yr old question for the 1st time looking different and wondering if his moms Asian featured face was at fault for being the way it was,' the dad tweeted. 'Then having to explain they are normal no matter what and that is racial prejudice. A virus doesnt see race.'

Cabanilla added, as social media users showed support: 'Its hard when someones prejudice replaces the image of who you know your kids are as people.' 

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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