Bismarck and Wuhan, China are separated by over 6,600 miles, but for our area’s small Chinese population, the effects of the Coronavirus are being felt in a big way.

“It’s not just about my family; it’s about what’s happening in Wuhan city. It’s really sad things, bad things, but you just need to try to fight through it,” said Bismarck Asian Market Owner Ruby Toman.

“China has a really big population, they’re not prepared for this,” said Rice Bowl owner Sherry Zhuang.

Since the first cases of what would later be identified as the coronavirus were reported in China in late December, the virus has reached across the globe.

In fact, the latest numbers show 37 countries have confirmed cases including at least 53 cases here in the U.S.

For the Chinese population living and working in Bismarck — it’s a stressful time.

Like for Ruby Toman. She runs Bismarck’s Asian Market and has family in China’s Fujian province, which, from Wuhan, is about the distance between Bismarck and Minneapolis.

She said she calls her family every day to check-in.

“As long as you stay home, you’re good, if they go running around, I’m more worried. Like for my sister, because they’ve got to work, so when you’re working you have to travel around, and I keep asking her do you have enough masks, make sure you don’t go out, but even the kids haven’t started school yet. The school’s been delayed for two months,” said Toman.

She added that she’s spent hundreds of dollars here buying and shipping masks back to China. Her sister said it’s worse over there.

“Three masks, she spent a hundred dollars, they sell at Amazon,” said Toman.

“For just three masks?! Not boxes?

“Three masks, not a box! Three pieces!… I said, why are you paying that kinda price? It’s like robbing people, you know,” said Toman.

Toman’s not the only one feeling the effects. Zhuang said she’s also shipped masks back home to family members.

“I did ship one case of the mask back to China, but I don’t know how long that’s going to take because a lot of the airlines have stopped flying from the United States to China, it could take a long time,” she said.

She said they’ve decided to cancel their family trip to Disneyland in California this summer because of virus fears in that state.

Both women did say that so far, the coronavirus has not impacted their business, and they are still able to get what they need from China.

But that could change as the virus continues to spread to more countries and more people.

The North Dakota Department of Health said it’s monitoring eight people for possible coronavirus symptoms in the state. Four people are being monitored in Minnesota.