The country is set to start reopening in the coming weeks, even as coronavirus cases in the United States reach over 826,000 along with more than 45,000 deaths. And while the curve does seem to flattening in some states, some are worried that the reopening of the country too quickly could cause a second wave of coronavirus.
One person eager to get things back to normal as quickly as possible is Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas. Back in March, he made headlines by suggesting that some older people would be willing to die to keep the economy going.
“My message: let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Lt Gov Dan Patrick, a 69-year-old Republican, told Tucker Carlson on Fox News. “Don’t sacrifice the country. Don’t do that.”
“You know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick added. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”
Older people and those with pre-existing conditions are the most likely to die as a result of coronavirus. The 70-79 age group in Italy had a case fatality rate of 12.8%, while China’s was 8%. For the over-80s, the rates are 20.2% and 14.8%, respectively.
And now, Lt. Governor Patrick seems to be doubling down on his previous comments. In another interview with Tucker Carlson this week, Lt. Governor Patrick addressed the controversy surrounding his comments.
“I’m sorry to say that I was right on this and I’m thankful that now we are now finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it’s been long overdue,” he said.
“What I said when I was with you that night is there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,” Patrick said. “I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”
Lt. Governor Patrick added that the death toll in Texas wasn't high enough to warrant shutting down the entire state. The latest figures suggest that over 20,000 Texans have tested positive for coronavirus and that 517 of them have died.
Unsurprisingly, Lt. Governor Patrick's comments caused even more controversy. "If Dan Patrick wants anyone to believe this, he's going to have to say it again when he's dead," one user wrote.
While another added: "In a sane world, a politician who says, 'There are more important things than living' would be looking for a new line of work."
And one user concluded: As a Christian, I agree with Dan Patrick that there are more important things than living. Also, as a Christian, I don’t believe saving my country by risking other people’s lives is one of those things."
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.