COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is facing backlash on social media after sharing an article about the controversial claim that the COVID-19 virus was created in a lab in Wuhan, China.
Husted shared an article that quotes Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying he believes the virus was manipulated in a Wuhan research laboratory to make it more contagious for research purposes and that the virus "escaped" from the lab.
In the interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Redfield expressed those ideas, but stressed they were strictly his opinion.
In February, a World Health Organization expert said the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal.
Husted shared the article on Twitter Friday evening, writing "So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?"
Many people responded to Husted's tweet, condemning him for pushing a "dangerous narrative" and promoting anti-Asian racism at a time where violence and harassment against the Asian and Asian American community are heightened.
Unsubstantiated claims such as the one shared by Husted Friday evening have been the target of many advocating for the Stop Asian Hate movement across the country.
Thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have turned to social media to support the movement using the hashtag #StopAsianHate, which became a top trending topic on Twitter hours after the Atlanta spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
Events aimed at stopping the violence and harassment directed at the Asian community have popped up across the state, with the most recent being a Stop Asian Hate rally and march held Sunday afternoon in Downtown Cleveland.
After the surge of backlash, Husted doubled-down on his original statement—attempting to add clarity to his meaning but not apologizing for how his tweet was received.
"To be clear, the tweet above referred only to the Chinese GOVERNMENT. A government of oppression that imprisons people of faith, silences dissenters and the media, manipulates its currency and steals our technology," Husted wrote on Saturday. "Would anyone be shocked to learn they also lied about a communicable disease that caused a pandemic?"
Unsatisfied with Husted's explanation, many Twitter users spoke out again, calling his words "irresponsible," "dangerous," and "reckless."
To be clear, the tweet above referred only to the Chinese GOVERNMENT. A government of oppression that imprisons people of faith, silences dissenters and the media, manipulates its currency and steals our technology.— Jon Husted (@JonHusted) March 27, 2021