- Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said “there are some things more important than living” as a justification for the state moving ahead with re-opening businesses starting next week.
- “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,” Patrick said.
- Texas, which has over 19,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 495 deaths from the disease, is gradually re-opening the state and its economy beginning on April 24.
- A number of surveys conducted in the past week also found that a far greater percentage of Americans are far concerned that the US will make the outbreak worse by moving to re-open too soon
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Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said “there are some things more important than living” as a justification for the state moving ahead with re-opening businesses starting next week despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
In late March, Patrick called for the economy to reopen as soon as possible, despite cases surging across the country. “Let’s get back to living,” he said. “Let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.”
Patrick echoed those same sentiments in an April 20 interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” saying, “I’m sorry to say I was right on this, and I am thankful we are now beginning to open up Texas and other states, because it’s been long overdue.”
The Lt. Governor also claimed that policymakers had “the wrong numbers and the wrong science” because the total number of deaths is currently below what some models initially projected.
“In Texas, we have 29 million people and we’ve lost 495. Every life is valuable, but its 500 people out of 29 million, we’re locked down, and we’re crushing the average worker, we’re crushing small business, we’re crushing this country,” Patrick said.
He added: “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. 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.”
—Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 21, 2020
Patrick’s assertions that the previous models and projections were incorrect ignore that many did not fully account for the stay-at-home orders, shutdowns of businesses, social distancing, and other mitigation measures to slow down the curve of the rate of infections.
The death rates being lower than what some models initially projected does not mean that the virus shouldn’t be taken as seriously, but rather that the aggressive steps policymakers have taken to slow the spread are working.
As of April 21, there are over 19,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 495 deaths in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced that beginning on April 24, Texas will keep schools closed through the rest of the academic but will gradually begin to re-open public parks and some business establishments starting April 24.
Public officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci have warned a move to re-open business activity too quickly could end up completely backfiring by spreading the virus at a higher rate, undoing the progress states have already made in slowing the rate of infections, and ultimately damaging the economy even more.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “clearly this is something that is hurting…but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen,” adding, “as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a re-opening, it’s going to backfire.”
A number of surveys conducted in the past week also found that a far greater percentage of Americans are far concerned that the US will make the outbreak worse by moving to re-open too soon than the percentage who agree with Patrick that the economy should re-open as soon as possible.
A YouGov and Yahoo News survey published on Monday found that a resounding 71% of respondents were more concerned about lifting coronavirus restrictions too quickly, compared to 29% who were concerned about lifting restrictions too slowly.
71% also said states should begin to re-open once public health officials can adequately test people and trace outbreaks, compared to 29% who said the economy should re-open as soon as possible to prevent further economic damage.
In the survey, 51% of Americans said another surge of COVID-19 cases would be “very likely” if states re-started their economies now, compared to 36% who said it would be somewhat likely. A full 67% also said they would continue practicing social distancing from others even after lockdowns are lifted.
A Wall Street Journal and NBC News poll of 900 Americans conducted between April 13 and 15 found that nearly 60% of Americans were more worried that the US would move too quickly in re-opening the economy, compared to almost 30% who were concerned the US would move too slowly.
And a Huffington Post/YouGov survey conducted April 17 and 18 found that 81% of Americans support statewide stay-at-home orders, with just 8% opposing such orders. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they were personally staying home to the greatest extent possible, compared to just 6% who said they were not.
Patrick’s statement that there are “more important” things than people living also stands in stark contrast to comments he made in May 2018 after a mass shooting in Santa Fe, Texas suggesting that a lack of respect for life causes mass shootings.
“Should we be surprised, in this nation? We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the break-up of families, through violent movies and particularly violent video games, which now outsell movies and music,” Patrick said on ABC News at the time, despite all the research proving video games do not contribute to mass shooting events.