On March 16, 2020, as COVID-19 was first spreading across the U.S., then-President Donald Trump issued a tweet about his support of U.S. industries, saying that he would protect them from the “Chinese Virus.” What followed, a new study has found, was a steep rise in tweets containing anti-Asian hashtags as anti-Asian sentiments rose across the country.

The study, published Friday in the American Journal of Public Healthexamined nearly 700,000 tweets and more than 1.2 million hashtags posted over the weeks surrounding Trump’s initial tweet about the “Chinese Virus,” and its authors found Trump’s tweet was likely the cause of a rise in the use of the #chinesevirus hashtag. While the use of #covid19 only rose by 379 percent through the course of the study period, the use of #chinesevirus rose by 8351 percent.

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