CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted said that a comment he made via Twitter about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic was not racist in an interview with WCMH, an NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio.
Husted was responding to a maelstrom of criticism that kicked off Friday when he posted a link to an interview with Robert Redfield the former director of the CDC under the Trump administration.
“So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?” Husted wrote in a Tweet from his personal Twitter account.
Hundreds of people responded to his tweet, many calling it tone-deaf and racist especially during a particularly difficult time for Asian Americans who are dealing with the aftermath of the mass shooting in Georgia and reports of increased harassment and discrimination.
Husted told WCMH that his use of the term “Wuhan Virus” referred to the geographic area where the virus was first discovered.
“It had nothing to do with race, or ethnicity, or violence, or any other thing. It had to do with science, it had to do with the Chinese government, it had to do with a virus,” he said in an interview with the station.
In the article that Husted was shared, Redfield said it was his opinion that the coronavirus “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it was spreading as early as September or October of 2019.
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump frequently accused the Chinese government of unleashing a “plague” on the world.
There were reports that his rhetoric fueled anti-Asian sentiment across the country.
The World Health Organization released a report Tuesday that said that it was “extremely unlikely” that COVID-19 escaped a Chinese lab. But China refused to provide raw data on the first cases of the virus to experts, and the Biden administration expressed “deep concerns” about the investigation.