An Ohio state lawmaker who is also a practicing physician asked health officials at a hearing on racism this week if “the colored population” is experiencing higher rates of the new coronavirus because they “do not wash their hands as well as other groups,” according to local media reports. State Sen. Steve Huffman, a Republican, made the suggestion during a Senate Health Committee hearing on whether to declare racism a public health crisis, 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? 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 was quoted as saying. The witness he was questioning, Ohio Commission on Minority Health Director Angela Dawson, reportedly shut down his suggestion by noting “leading medical experts” do not agree with that idea.
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