The Republican chairman of the Riley County Commissioners in Kansas insists his state has fared better during the coronavirus outbreak due to its lack of “Chinese people.”
The Kansas City Star is reporting that Marvin Rodriguez insisted the state’s number of positive coronavirus cases would likely be higher if they had more Chinese people like Italy and other countries greatly affected by the global pandemic.
Rodriguez’s comments were made during a meeting between Manhattan, Kansas, Mayor Usha Reddi and commissioners to discuss whether or not to proceed with a declaration of emergency. Although the group ultimately opted to do so, Reddi noted a remark made by Rodriguez.
“I’m paraphrasing, but he said we don’t have a problem here because Italy has a lot of Chinese people, and we don’t have that problem here.”
Yes, this really happened! https://t.co/cmC3pVFcwg— Usha Reddi (@ReddiForSenate) March 20, 2020
Reddi also called Rodriguez out via Twitter for apparently spreading false information about the number of coronavirus cases in Kansas.
Yesterday, a Riley County Commissioner said this (paraphrasing): “We have zero cases. I don’t think it’s a problem here. In Italy they have a lot of Chinese and that’s why they have the virus. We don’t have that problem here”— Usha Reddi (@ReddiForSenate) March 19, 2020
This needs to stop! This is false information!
Shortly after the comments were relayed, Rodriguez was contacted by the Star’s editorial board. He offered an explanation for his remarks.
“I didn’t necessarily say it like that,” Rodriguez said, adding, “Italy has a problem with its health department, first. It’s health for everybody. I have a friend in the Navy, and he said in that area” [of Northern Italy] “there’s a garment industry and a lot of Chinese. If we were like Italy, we’d have it already.”
The publication went on to cite the dangers of Rodriguez’s words. To which, he replied, “Well, they say it came out of China,” adding, “and I’m not putting it past the Chinese government in communist China.”
The publication posed the question of whether or not he was suggesting the virus had been purposely spread. Rodriguez responded, “Normally, this kind of thing spreads slowly. … I put two and two together. I’ve been around a long time, girl.”
He went on to argue that the local shutdowns could be a form of overaction amid coronavirus concerns.
“We’re hurting a lot of people in Manhattan,” he said. “Places are being shut down for no reason at all.”
Reddi has also expressed concern about Rodriguez’s statement. On Friday, she took to Twitter doubling down on her stance insisting Rodriguez’s comments downplay the level of risk the pandemic poses for everyone.
She tweeted, “False information, racism and downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic puts everyone at risk. As elected officials, we need to focus on taking drastic measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as much as we can.”
Thank you, @MelindaKCMO, @KCStar and the Editorial Board! False information, racism and downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic puts everyone at risk. As elected officials we need to focus on taking drastic measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as much as we can. https://t.co/xmiOkukokV— Usha Reddi (@ReddiForSenate) March 20, 2020
“This is devastating, and we’re not ready,” Reddi said, “but you can’t be an irresponsible public official.”
As of early Friday, there were 35 coronavirus cases reported in the state of Kansas.Published in