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Local leaders beg customers to return to Chinatown

Officials said the rumors spread on social media about the coronavirus in Houston are libelous.

HOUSTON — Houston’s Chinatown International District is facing a financial crisis in the wake of the coronavirus scare happening across the world.

Local leaders say business is down as much as 70% in some spots as customers are too fearful to patronize the part of town.

“I know of one restaurant that has lost $30,000 a day," said U.S. Rep. Al Green.

“Grocery store[s] [are] about 50% down, and then the restaurant is about 70% average," said one Chinatown businessman. So you can see where the hundreds of businesses along Bellaire, and then on top of that travel agencies, massage, there’s a lot of businesses affected because of the loss of the traffic.”

The Chinese consul general in Houston gave an update on the situation in Wuhan and the coronavirus, saying 814 people have died as a result of the illness.

He says more than 30,000 people are currently infected and more than 20,000 others are suspected to have the virus.

Officials said libelous social media posts are spreading misinformation and have led to empty restaurants and stores.

In a public plea, business owners and officials are begging customers to come back.

"It is having a significant impact," Green said. "A needless impact, given that there is no reported case. There is no reason to be away from your normal life. So I’m begging people to please come back.”

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