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Coronavirus

Asians in US torn between safety and stigma over face masks

Clashing cultures and expert advice lead to discomfort and outright racism

A masked woman waits for the subway in New York in early March. There have been scattered reports of racist attacks targeting Asians over the coronavirus.   © Reuters

NEW YORK/PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Krystal Ji, a China-born lawyer working in San Francisco's busy Financial District, believes that wearing face masks reduces her risk of contracting the new coronavirus. But a seemingly minor incident last week convinced the 26-year-old to ditch them.

Ji was waiting for the elevator in her company's lobby, wearing a mask. When the elevator came, a man behind her saw the mask and decided to wait for the next one, even though there was plenty of room.

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