A Republican Ohio state legislator was fired from his position as an ER doctor after asking if “the colored population” would be impacted more by the #coronavirus because they possibly “don’t wash their hands as well as other groups.”
At this week’s state Senate Health committee hearing in Columbia, republican State Rep. Steve Huffman drew backlash against him after making racist and false remarks about Black people and other non-white communities. “I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions, and that makes them more susceptible to death from COVID. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get COVID?” Huffman asked.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
He continued: “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? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?” TeamHealth, the professional contractor that hired Huffman, released a statement condemning Huffman’s comments.
” Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment,” said McHenry Lee, a spokesman for TeamHealth. Huffman came back, justifying his comments saying that he 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 the terms “colored” and “people of color” seem to be interchangeable after saying he shouldn’t have used “colored.”
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse (D) said Huffman’s words completely undermine the tragic effects of systemic racism. “He highlights what racism is from a [systemic] perspective. He’s a full legislator, but beyond that, professionally, he’s a doctor,” Howse said in an interview with 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?” she continued.