SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A Palo Alto woman never got the coronavirus, but she’s paying the price for being quarantined. She says her small business and others in the South Bay are taking a hit over fears of the novel virus.

Some local business owners say sales are down because they’re Chinese-owned, but Esther Tebeka, who was quarantined for weeks but never infected, says her clinic is open, but very few people are walking in.

“I’m feeling I have been punished by doing the right thing,” she said. She says more patients cancelled their appointments Wednesday at the Tiferes Medical Acupuncture Clinic before coming to see her.

Normally, she’s booked solid.

“People should not be afraid of us,” she said.

She is among a couple hundred people who evacuated Wuhan, China when the coronavirus outbreak began. She was under federal quarantine for two weeks, and she quarantined herself for another seven days after returning home last week to give the community peace of mind.

Esther Tebeka’s acupuncture business took a hit when she returned from coronavirus quarantine (CBS)

She says though she was never infected, people are still afraid. Instead of her usual six to a dozen patients per day, she’s only averaging about one since coming back. Tebeka is not alone in feeling the effects of coronavirus.

COMPLETE COVERAGE Special Section: Coronavirus Outbreak — California and Elsewhere

“Businesses that are Chinese-owned have been experiencing some slow down in business and I wanted to tell the public that this is not right,” said San Jose city councilmember Johnny Khamis.

Kamis’ message for the community is that now is the time to support Chinese-owned businesses. Mandarin Gourmet in San Jose told KPIX that they’ve seen a 20 percent drop in sales because customers associate them with the coronavirus.

“I’ve heard things like at school, Chinese kids are getting teased more, and I think it’s not healthy for us to single out people because of their race or ethincity,” Khamis said.

“We are all in the same camp. We are fighting this virus, so we should focus on that versus showing hatred to certain ethnic groups of people,” Tebeka said.

Comments (3)