Ohio state Sen. Steve Huffman had a job as an emergency room doctor when he questioned the hand-washing practices of the "colored population" during a Senate hearing on racism on Tuesday. He doesn't now. The physician who spent 18 years working at Upper Valley Medical Center and Wayne Hospital was fired from his post after comments "wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace," a spokesperson for TeamHealth tells the Washington Post. The white Republican lawmaker had questioned whether African-Americans were more likely to contract COVID-19 because "the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups."
State Rep. Erica Crawley, a Democrat, said Huffman had implied that black people were "less hygienic/clean" than other people. "This right here is the underlying implicit bias/covert racism that was in the question," she tweeted. Others in the Ohio House and Senate spoke out, too, while residents described the comment as "bizarre" and "appalling," per WDTN. In a Thursday statement, Huffman said he'd "asked a question in an unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful and was exactly the opposite of what I meant," per WDTN. He added he was only "trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate since we really do not know all the reasons." (Read more Ohio stories.)