ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) —  Republican leaders in the Maryland Senate Tuesday called on Senate President Bill Ferguson to formally apologize to Dr. Robert Redfield, senior public health adviser to Governor Larry Hogan, for what they called “disparaging comments” made to Redfield after he said he believes the coronavirus “escaped” from a lab in Wuhan.

The lab theory was previously dismissed, but President Biden last month ordered the intelligence community to double their investigation into the origin of COVID-19 after the Wall Street Journal and CNN reported on new information that underscored the plausibility of the lab theory,

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Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire and Senate Minority Whip Michael Hough said the “inappropriate public shaming” of Redfield, a former CDC Director, took place during the March 26 floor session under Ferguson’s leadership and with his participation.

Redfield said in March that he believes the virus originated inside a lab in Wuhan, China, and “escaped.”

“If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan,” Dr. Redfield told CNN. “That’s my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”

The statement drew heavy criticism at the time, with Ferguson even calling on Redfield to step down.

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“Dr. Redfield’s comments were inappropriate, unacceptable and beyond unfortunate,” Ferguson said. “A comment like this on national news is just not okay, and I am hopeful that the governor will ask Dr. Redfield to either retract or walk back that statement or clarify that statement. And if not, I hope the governor does ask
him to step away.”

Senator Clarence Lam said the theories like the leak theory helped give rise to the uptick in Asian American hate crimes and discrimination.

“The rise in bias, discrimination and hate aimed at Asian Americans over the past year can be directly attributable to the racially politicized rhetoric that we’ve heard over the past year,” said Lam. “That’s why I am disturbed that a senior adviser to the Governor is now trafficking in the same innuendo, rhetoric and inflammatory language and allegations without any evidence in attributing the coronavirus to a man-made origin.”

Simonaire and Hough they hope the Senate can put the issue behind them.

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“It is our hope we can address this issue quickly, decisively and avoid instances like this in the future.”

CBS Baltimore Staff