Huffman appointment worrying

Last summer, as the world was struggling to understand and fight COVID-19, Ohio Sen. Stephen Huffman, R-5th Dist., asked this question of the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, during a hearing in which lawmakers were trying to understand how to best fight the virus:

“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?”

Despite the number of things to tear apart in that line of questioning, Angela Dawson quickly replied simply “That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country.”

Huffman, who was fired shortly thereafter from his position as a part-time physician for TeamHealth, apologized for what he called the “awkward wording” of his questions.

Now, he has been appointed by state Senate President Matt Huffman, R-12th Dist., (Stephen’s cousin) to be chairman of the Ohio Senate’s health panel. The appointment is worrying, unless Stephen Huffman quickly provides some assurance he does see the error of his ways.

“Although the senator’s comments were deeply offensive, we hope that he has learned from his mistake and moves to right the systemic wrongs that are being perpetrated in the state of Ohio,” Tim Bishop, executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, told The Columbus Dispatch.

Surely Huffman understands all eyes are upon him as he assumes this new role. Ohioans are hoping he will rise to the occasion, rather than falling back on outdated and offensive thinking that will serve no one.


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