Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on Fox News on Thursday night that “African-Americans who have not been vaccinated” are to blame for the nation’s sharp rise in COVID cases.
“Democrats like to blame Republicans on that. Well, the biggest group in most states are African-Americans who have not been vaccinated. The last time I checked, over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties,” Patrick told host Laura Ingraham on the “Ingraham Angle” show.
The Texas Tribune reported on Tuesday that the state’s COVID surge could be the worst the Texas has seen in the 18 months since the pandemic started. More hospitals are reporting a shortage of ICU beds than at any other time during the outbreak.
“We are entering the worst surge in sheer numbers,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, a Dallas doctor and member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force. “This is the fourth round of what should have been a three-round fight. We do have very sincere concerns that the numbers game is going to overwhelm us.”
Between 93 percent and 98 percent of hospitalized COVID patients in the state are unvaccinated, according to officials.
But data from the Texas Department of Health doesn’t indicate that the Black population is driving the uptick in cases. Although Black Americans have low vaccination rates in Texas, as do whites in rural areas, the highest coronavirus case rates are among whites and Hispanics.
“Making a statement that casts blame on a racial or ethnic minority for the spread of disease is a well-known racist trope that predates most of us,” Jorge Caballero, a former instructor at the Stanford University School of Medicine who is now working as health data scientist, told The Washington Post. “People are already getting hurt by this virus, and it makes absolutely no sense for us to add insult to injury.”
Caballero provided more details about the drivers of the surge on Twitter.
The clip of Patrick making the comment has been viewed 1.5 million times on Twitter.
Texas congressional candidate Russell Foster responded to Patrick, writing, “the reports I hear from the hospitals in my district are that they are full of unvaccinated white people that refused the vaccine.”
Like some other Republican leaders, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has resisted implementing precautions to slow the spread of the virus. In fact, Abbott has take steps to block local mandates and protect the rights of the unvaccinated.
Abbott himself has been vaccinated, and declared earlier this month during a speech,
“Going forward, in Texas, there will not be any government-imposed shutdowns or mask mandates,” Abbott said. “Everyone already knows what to do.”
Abbott has tested positive for COVID, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said on Tuesday.
Patrick made national headlines in March of last year amid conversations about the economic impact the pandemic shutdown would have on the country when he claimed that seniors, who make up a demographic this is more vulnerable to COVID, should be willing to die to keep the economy afloat.
“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, then 69, said on Fox News. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”
He added, “And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that,” he continued. “I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me … that what we care about and what we love more than anything are those children.”