Tags: Coronavirus | pandemic | african americans | ohio | steve huffman | racism

Ohio Senator: Poor Hand-Washing Worsening Pandemic in 'Colored Population?'

huffman in a black suit and red striped tie speaking into a mic
Steve Huffman (Al Behrman/AP Photo)

By    |   Thursday, 11 June 2020 07:13 AM

A Republican lawmaker in Ohio who also works as an emergency room physician asked during a hearing this week if African Americans are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus because of bad hygiene.

During a hearing centered on whether the state should declare racism a public health crisis in the wake of nationwide protests, Sen. Steve Huffman asked Ohio Commission on Minority Health Director Angela Dawson whether a lack of hand-washing is contributing to the pandemic among blacks.

"My point is I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and it makes them more susceptible to death from COVID," Huffman said, according to the Dayton Daily News. "But why it doesn't make them more susceptible to just get COVID. Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups or wear a mask or do not socially distance themselves? That could be the explanation of the higher incidence?"

Dawson responded, "That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country."

Huffman's comment drew criticism from his fellow lawmakers.

"He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspective," said Ohio Legislative Black Caucus president Stephanie Howse, a Democrat.

State Sen. Cecil Thomas, another Democrat, added, "He's an example of why we have to have this discussion about racism and how it impacts people."

Huffman later issued an apology, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

"Regrettably, I asked a question in an unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful and was exactly the opposite of what I meant," he said. "I was trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate since we really do not know all the reasons."

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A Republican lawmaker in Ohio who also works as an emergency room physician asked during a hearing this week if African Americans are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus...
pandemic, african americans, ohio, steve huffman, racism
291
2020-13-11
Thursday, 11 June 2020 07:13 AM
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