During a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis, Ohio Senator Steve Huffman (R), who also happens to be an emergency room physician, asked if “the colored population” is more disproportionately impacted by the novel coronavirus because they “don’t wash their hands as well.”
“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. “But why doesn’t it make them more susceptible to just get COVID?”
He added: “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?”
“That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country,” said Ohio Commission on Minority Heath director Angela Dawson, who added that those with chronic conditions are more vulnerable to the virus’s effects on the respiratory system.
You can watch the moment Huffman asked his question below.
WATCH: Here was the moment when Ohio Sen. Steve Huffman asked if the "colored population" has a higher rate of COVID-19 because they don't wash their hands as much. pic.twitter.com/o8AiMg1q30
— Tyler Buchanan (@Tylerjoelb) June 11, 2020
The exchange quickly made the rounds on social media.
Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman (R) is an emergency room physician. He needs to be investigated to see if he let black people die because he’s a racist.
— Indy Denver – WTF 2020 (@pennyindenver) June 11, 2020
Ohio people, he's all yours. Does the GOP have a time portal? Are these people escapees from the 1700s? WTAF?https://t.co/mrFIXnL7mc
— Barbara Marshall (@BBbmarsh) June 11, 2020
— Matt Gaetz’ Liver 🍸 (@MattGaetzLiver) June 11, 2020
Steve Huffman is ignorant AF…only in Ohio politics. With the crazy gerrymandering morons like this guy get elected. https://t.co/F7UIIR1CqC
— Dawn Doleh (@AustinTXBuckeye) June 11, 2020
Huffman’s comments also received criticism from Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse (D), who said his remarks are evidence of systemic racism.
“He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspective. He’s a full legislator but beyond that, professionally, he’s a doctor,” she told The Dayton Daily News. “When we talk about the health disparities that happen because black folks aren’t believed when they’re actually hurt, they aren’t given the treatment that they need. Do you think that someone who acknowledges the ‘coloreds’ is going to give the love and care that people need when they come through those doors?”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.