COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted is responding after being roundly criticized for using the term “Wuhan Virus” in a recent tweet.

“So it appears it was the Wuhan Virus after all?” Husted tweeted Friday in response to an Axios story titled, “Ex-CDC director says he believes coronavirus originated in Wuhan lab.”

Former CDC Director Robert Redfield appeared to parrot former President Donald Trump, who was fond of calling the malady the “China Virus” or “Wuhan Virus,” instead of the less incendiary “COVID-19” or “coronavirus.”

The tweet was sent from Husted’s personal account, not his account as lieutenant governor, @LtGovHusted.

One person replied to Husted’s tweet, “Asian-Americans are getting killed because of rhetoric like this. You represent my state. Do better,” while another called it “racist and reckless.”

Redfield claimed the virus was made in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China and escaped to infect humans. He offered no evidence to support his theory, and the origin of the virus has not yet been pinpointed.

Violence against Asian Americans has been on the rise in the past year, which some attribute in part to the former president’s derogatory tweets.

On Saturday, Husted clarified on Twitter: “To be clear, the tweet…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.

“Would anyone be shocked to learn they also lied about a communicable disease that caused a pandemic?” Husted tweeted.

Another response to Husted’s original tweet called for Governor Mike DeWine to encourage Husted to delete the tweet. As of early Saturday afternoon, it still appeared on the social media platform.

Husted’s press secretary issued the following statement:

“The Lt. Governor was highlighting an article in which the former CDC director questioned the Chinese government’s account of its origin of COVID-19 and if it had actually escaped from a Wuhan lab.  

“The Chinese government has not been cooperative as journalists and the Trump and Biden administrations have sought more facts. Recently, an international group of scientists and researchers issued an open letter calling for an independent investigation, separate from the WHO effort, which they say has lacked the independence, expertise, and access needed to adequately investigate the source of the pandemic, including the potential for a lab accident. “Efforts to date do not constitute a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation,” the letter, published by The Wall Street Journal, said. 

“This virus has killed 2.7 million people worldwide, and the Lt. Governor believes the public deserves the facts and an independent investigation.”

Statement from Lt. Gov. Husted’s spokesperson

As of Saturday night, there has been no response from DeWine’s office.