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SAN DIEGO (CNS) — More than 50 Asian Pacific Islander organizations in San Diego County released a joint statement Thursday denouncing xenophobia, racism and acts of violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The organizations called upon the county community to avoid the use of harmful language relating to COVID-19, including labels such as “China coronavirus,” “Chinese coronavirus” and “Wuhan Virus.”

“Use of such language has led to an alarming increase in consequences ranging from unintended microagressions to acts of violence and hate towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” the organizations’ joint statement says. “We urge elected officials and community leaders to lead by example by publicly condemning and standing against xenophobia and racism.”

Asians make up 16.74% of the county’s population, according to Word Population Review statistics cited by the groups.

“Let’s be very clear: neither race nor ethnicity caused the coronavirus — and the hate we are seeing towards the API community is not only wrong but it’s dangerous,” Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, said in a statement. “Defeating this disease demands that we come together as a people and show our strength and resilience. There is no room for any hate at any level.”

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate said in February that there are 30,000 Asian/Pacific Islander-owned businesses in San Diego County alone and that scares about the respiratory illness have slowed trade.

The organizations urge anyone who has experienced or witnessed an act of hate as a result of COVID-19 to report it at