Ohio Newspaper Calls on Lt. Gov. Jon Husted to Apologize for 'Wuhan Virus' Tweet

The editorial board for northern Ohio's largest newspaper, The Plain Dealer, demanded Sunday that GOP Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted issue an official apology over a "Wuhan virus" remark he made that stirred "anti-Asian" sentiment.

The board's latest op-ed was in response to Husted's March 26 tweet in which he called the coronavirus pandemic the "Wuhan virus," a remark he later claimed was only intended to tie COVID-19 to a Chinese city, not its people. The board said Husted "knows that using weaponized expressions" such as "China virus, Wuhan virus and Kung flu" is wrong, but he did it any way.

So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?https://t.co/zmimtlZ9Ev

Ex-CDC director says he believes coronavirus originated in Wuhan lab

— Jon Husted (@JonHusted) March 26, 2021

"So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all? Ex-CDC director says he believes coronavirus originated in Wuhan lab," Husted tweeted March 26, sharing an Axios article, which highlighted remarks from Robert Redfield. The ex-CDC chief told CNN that week that he believes the coronavirus "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The editorial board denounced Husted for his remarks and said he should immediately apologize for issuing such a vast stereotypical comment.

"Yet now, thanks to Husted's words, Ohioans of Asian ancestry today feel more threatened, more vulnerable to attack -- because the No. 2 official in Ohio government has added his voice to weaponized anti-Asian talk. By failing to apologize and disavow those words, Husted gives sustenance and support to those who would use such official validation of hate-filled expressions to justify their own attacks and bias," the newspaper's editorial board wrote.

The Plain Dealer editorial leadership also went on to accuse former President Donald Trump of using such phrases like "China virus" and "kung flu" as political "ammunition of hate against the Chinese and others of Asian extraction." According to the op-ed, he and other GOP lawmakers like Husted have done this as a means of deflecting U.S. responsibility for "not doing enough to curb COVID-19" on American soil.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a February report that did not conclude that the Wuhan lab was directly responsible for the virus' spread across the globe, sparking the pandemic. But former Trump officials, including ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, blasted the findings as "corrupt" and overseen by the Communist Party of China.

The editorial board noted that Husted's "Wuhan virus" tweet is far from the first instance of inappropriate language from Ohio leaders looking to stir up anti-Asian rhetoric. As The Plain Dealer noted, Lake County Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell referenced the "China virus" three times in a January column, prompting the Asian American Bar Association of Ohio to issue a statement:

"Our organization, and community-at-large, is deeply troubled by the use of such discriminatory and racially-charged language by a member of the judiciary, particularly at a time when stereotypes associated with this language have led to a documented surge in anti-Asian bias and racist attacks related to the coronavirus."

Newsweek reached out to Husted and the Plain Dealer for any additional remarks Sunday.

Updated 12:01 PM ET.

Wuhan lab
An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on April 17, 2020. Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images