Queens official fired for calling COVID the ‘Wu flu’
A member of a Queens community council was removed from office after referral to COVID-19 as the “Wu-Flu” in a public gathering.
Community Board 5 member Richard Huber, at the remote meeting on January 11said, “If all you’ve ever heard about the vaccine — these so-called vaccines — for the ‘Wu flu’.”
He questioned the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines and antivirals amid an increase in COVID-19 a new infectious strain of Omicron.
Board member Derek Evers responded, “I’m not going to comment on the rampaging anti-vaxx diatribe we just heard. But I just want to condemn the racist language that was used and I don’t think the Community Council is the place for that.”
Queens has the largest Asian American population in the US.
Borough President Donovan Richards immediately removed Huber from CB 5 — which covers Maspeth, Ridgewood, Glendale and Middle Village neighborhoods — citing the code of conduct for board member scheduling that prohibits discrimination. The borough president appoints members to the community council in consultation with the city councilors and has the power to fire them for cause.
“For the past three years, our Asian-American neighbors in New York City have experienced a wave of prejudice and violence against their community, and I will not tolerate any community board member using language that has fueled that wave of bigotry and hatred.” Richards said in a statement to The Post, of which he later tweeted a variation.
“That’s why I removed this person from Queens Community Board 5 for good reason.”
Huber’s comments were first reported by the Queens Ledger.
But there is extensive reporting that indicates that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan, China.
Robert Holden, the Queen’s Councilor — whose wife is Japanese-American and has been a victim of anti-Asian discrimination — named Huber CB5. But he said Huber’s impeachment by the borough president smacks of the canceled culture going haywire.
He said that Richards should have advised Huber and given him a chance to explain himself or apologize, and he complained that Richards, being black, is quick to racialize issues, also against him. Holden is white.
“I am married to an Asian American. Anti-Asian violence is real,” Holden said.
“I also know that Richard Huber has a big heart and has done many good things in the neighborhood. There’s a body of work that Richard Huber has done for decades that should be considered,” Holden said.
“Donovan Richards just cancels people.”
Huber told The Post that his comment was “offhand” and “wasn’t meant to be a slur… I said it. I live with it.”
He said he believes COVID-19 “originated in the Wuhan lab” in China.
Huber, a longtime community advocate and member of the Queens Kiwanis Club, likened it to the measles dubbed the “German measles” because of the first cases first recorded in that country.
He asked if his “Wu-Flu” comment would be heard in the context of his general remarks, in which he praised doctors and nurses and complained that some were leaving the profession due to COVID-19 policies. He also complained that so many people are infected with COVID variants after being vaccinated and boosted and warned about the side effects of antivirals.
“Everything you’ve ever heard about the vaccine – the so-called vaccines – for the ‘Wu flu’. It was only safe and effective and would prevent transmission, and it would prevent you from catching it. That doesn’t seem entirely true,” Huber said.
Public health studies show those who are vaccinated and boosted much less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 if they are infected or re-infected.
But New York City health officials also recently reported that the last Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, was more likely to infect residents who have been vaccinated or previously affected by COVID-19.
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