The Chinese New Year isn't getting off to a good start because of misinformation about coronavirus, or COVID-19 as they've renamed it. A local Chinese restaurant owner tells me his business has nosedived since the emergence of the coronavirus.

Good friends of ours, who own a popular Chinese restaurant, are heartbroken about this latest scare that's centered around baseless fears and prejudices.

Boston radio stations are reporting business in Chinatown has gone down 50 to 70 percent in the last two weeks and that it looks like a ghost town. I'm reading the phenomenon is widespread throughout the United States and the world. Come to think of it, I remember back when the SARS virus broke out in 2003, the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had to stage a publicity tour of Boston's Chinatown to help get people to return.

How do fear and xenophobia play into the coronavirus? People will read some unsubstantiated story on social media and are scared off. So, whatever dining out plans you might have for Valentine's Day or this weekend, I recommend you turn your back on racism, xenophobia, paranoia, ignorance, and whatever else you want to call it, and instead show support for the neighborhood and community.

And by all means, make Miso happy by enjoying some delicious General Tso's, crab rangoon and fried rice.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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