COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted met privately over the weekend with a handful of his Upper Arlington neighbors who represent the Asian American community, but one person who attended the meeting said he did not apologize for a controversial tweet in which he called COVID-19 the Wuhan Virus.
Still, those who attended the meeting said they are cautiously optimistic Husted will not use that phrase in the future, and that he acknowledged the power of his words.
“The conversation, for me, was about feeling heard and there certainly were moments for me when I did feel heard,” said Nidhi Satiani, an Upper Arlington resident who was at the meeting. “There were also some moments when I did feel there is still room for additional growth and I think both of those things are fine. The fact that he was open to that conversation is what gives me the most hope.”
When asked if she heard the words “I’m sorry” from Husted, Satiani said, “There were a lot of words that were said and ultimately, I think the most important messages that I was hearing is that there is an openness to that dialogue and further dialogue.”
Satiani said the people attending the meeting were able to share their Asian American perspective. She would like to see the lieutenant governor and other politicians surround themselves in the future with people who have different backgrounds and experiences.
On March 26, Husted retweeted an article from Axios in which former CDC director Robert Redfield said he believed the COVID-19 virus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, despite there being limited evidence supporting his statement. In his retweet from his personal account, Husted wrote, “So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?”
As of April 19, the tweet remains on Husted’s personal account.
Days after the retweet was posted, Husted defended it.
“I don’t regret sending it because it was based on fact and trying to raise awareness about the need of an independent investigation,” he said on March 30. “Let me just say as an elected leader of the state of Ohio, Asian Americans have been great contributors and sacrificed and made America a wonderful country.”
Violence against Asian Americans has been on the rise in the past year, which some attribute in part to former President Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan flu,” “China virus” and other names instead of coronavirus or COVID-19.