According to some anecdotal reports, foot traffic in SF's Chinatown is down over 50 percent because of concerns over the coronavirus. But the Eye of Sauron-like social media giant, Facebook, hopes to turn that around by helping those affected businesses create and run ads to buffer dwindling sales.

The San Francisco Business Times reported that representatives from Facebook announced — while surrounded by locale notables like Mayor Breed, Senator Scott Weiner, and others — that the social media company is helping fund ad campaigns for SF Chinatown institutions, which are intended to both help increase neighborhood foot traffic and quell COVID-19 worries.

“We don't want people to live in fear or to cancel their engagements,” Breed said during the conference. “We want people to continue with gatherings they've coordinated, and we will continue to do our very best to keep you informed. ...San Francisco is open for business."

17th District Assemblymember David Chiu, who was also in attendance during the announcement, agrees with Breed.

“We are all sharing the experience that we're seeing our Chinatowns decimated by the fear-mongering, the rumors of the impact of the coronavirus,” Chiu added. “We're here to say: Shop in Chinatown. Eat in Chinatown. Dine in Chinatown.”

The Menlo Park-based corporation is donating $20K — "in cash" — to the local nonprofit Chinese Newcomers Service Center (CNSC), funds that will be used to provide participating Chinatown businesses the monetary means to create and run advertisements on whatever medium they choose... so not just on Facebook. However, Zuckerberg’s co-founded company is also giving another $5K in Facebook ad credit and technical assistance to CNSC, helping interested SF Chinatown businesses build Facebook-specific marketing campaigns.

Facebook's recent olive branch to SF's Chinatown arrives after the first coronavirus-caused death in the United States was confirmed today, as reported by NBC News. The Chronicle's live-updated coronavirus map shows 31 current cases of the novel disease in California, 15 of those in the Bay Area.

Facebook, as well, canceled its annual F8 conference for developers over coronavirus concerns.

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