During a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis, state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, asked if “the colored population” is hit harder by the coronavirus because perhaps they don’t wash their hands as well as other groups.
Huffman, an emergency room physician, asked a witness before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday why COVID-19 is hitting African Americans harder than white people.
“My point is I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and it makes them more susceptible to death from COVID. 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?” he said.
Ohio Commission on Minority Health Director Angela Dawson responded to Huffman: “That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country.” COVID-19 impacts the respiratory system so those with chronic conditions are more vulnerable, she said.
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, said Huffman’s word choice and question represent systemic racism.