Ohio state Sen. Steve Huffman (R), who is an ER doctor, was fired from his position at a health contractor on Thursday after he suggested people in the “colored population” don’t wash their hands as well as others.
Huffman worked at TeamHealth, a firm that outsources health care providers to medical facilities.
“Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace,” TeamHealth spokesman McHenry Lee said in a statement. “TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”
The GOP lawmaker had made the racist comment on Tuesday during a hearing on whether racism ought to be declared a public health crisis in Ohio, during which he asked Ohio Commission on Minority Health executive director Angela Dawson why there were higher rates of COVID-19 infections among black Americans.
“Could it just be that African Americans — the colored population — do not wash their hands as well as other groups?” he asked Dawson, who is black.
After initially describing his question as “unintentionally awkward way that was perceived as hurtful” in response to the backlash on Wednesday, Huffman issued a fuller apology via Facebook on Thursday.
“At a legislative committee hearing on Tuesday, I used an insensitive and offensive term while asking a question. I had absolutely no malicious intent, but I recognize that my choice of words was unacceptable and hurtful,” he wrote. “I apologize, and I make no excuses.”