Ohio Senator Asks If ‘Colored Population’ Impacted More By COVID Because They Don’t Wash Hands Well
Ohio Senate

Some things you can’t make up. Like the fact that Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman, a Republican, questioned whether the higher rate of the coronavirus in the “the colored population” was due to people in that population not washing their hands as well as those of other groups…during a hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis, nonetheless, the Dayton Daily News reports.

“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,” said Huffman, who is an emergency room physician, to a witness during the hearing before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday. “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?”

The witness, Ohio Commission on Minority Health Director Angela Dawson, was able to respond professionally, noting that, “That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country,” and emphasizing that the virus is more dangerous to those with chronic conditions.

However, the president of the Black Caucus, Stephanie Howse, was quick to call out Huffman, particularly given his status as a doctor and the known disparities that Black Americans face in every system, including medical care.

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“He highlights what racism is from a systematic perspective. He’s a full legislator but beyond that, professionally, he’s a doctor. 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,” Howse noted. “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?”

Huffman, for his part, claimed that his question was misunderstood.

“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,” he said.