"The Asian Americans were very cautious. So early on they started wearing masks, they started staying away just in case and in addition people then associated that thinking mistakingly that Chinatown is the epicenter which is not true," said Chen.
Chen is the Executive Director the Chinatown Partnership and Business Improvement District, helping people like Chi Vy Ngo. Ngo is the general manager of New York Bo Ky, a noodle shop on Baxter Street named after his parents. Every day he puts in long hours just to stay afloat.
"We don’t have any other choices, we have to face that scenario and we struggle," said Ngo.
Volunteers from the Chinatown BID canvassed the whole neighborhood and found that at least 17 restaurants and 139 other store-front businesses in Chinatown have permanently closed during the pandemic. Even as the city tries to offer assistance, advocates say many Chinese-owned businesses find out about that help too late.
"They don’t get the information they need directly from the source of the information a lot of the time because of language access issues and because of outreach issues," said Ahyoung Kim with the Asian American Federation.
Still, Chen believes in this community.
"Chinatown folks are just like New Yorkers, very very resilient, tough fighters, the expression if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere and these are the true New Yorkers," said Chen.
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