Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions should be eased because “there are more important things than living.”
A Texas official already notorious for his views on the threat from coronavirus has said he will no longer listen to advice from Dr Anthony Fauci — even as Texas confronts record numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations a few weeks after lifting its lockdown.
Interviewed on Fox News by veteran conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, lieutenant governor Dan Patrick scorned the idea that locking down was the way to curb the state’s soaring numbers, and vented his disgust at the country’s most visible public health adviser for his warnings about the Texas outbreak.
“We’ve had 2,424 people die, and New York has had over 31,000. Even California has had almost three times as much as Texas. And remember, Laura, those two states have been locked down the whole time, while we have been open,” he said.
“So locking down doesn’t work. If it did, those two states would be going better than Texas.”
Mr Patrick’s disparaging of lockdown measures sits awkwardly against the available data, including from California, whose current surge of infections began after governor Gavin Newsom allowed counties to start lifting their lockdowns in stages.
“Fauci said today that he’s concerned about states like Texas that ‘skipped over certain things’. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about! We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him,” he said.
“You [Ms Ingraham] had a lot of doctors on your show from day one, your doctors have been right almost every time, and he has been wrong every time, on every issue. I don’t need his advice any more. We’ll listen to a lot of science, we’ll listen to a lot of doctors, and governor Abbott, myself and other state leaders, we’ll make the decision. No thank you, Dr Fauci.”
Mr Patrick has long been a vocal opponent of lockdown measures, saying in the spring that older Americans should accept the risk of dying from the virus so that the US could keep the economy open and “preserve the American way of life” — and on another occasion commenting “there are more important things than living”.
For her part, Ms Ingraham is well-known for her early scepticism about the coronavirus, for which she was lampooned on Saturday Night Live in early March. In the first stages of the outbreak, she focused her commentary on the idea that the threat from the virus was being amplified and “weaponised” by Democrats in an attempt to boost their electoral chances against Donald Trump.
She was also one of several Fox News hosts who collectively devoted hours of airtime to promoting hydroxychloroquine — a medication that some, including Mr Trump himself, claimed could help treat Covid-19. After several studies finding it had no significant beneficial effects, the FDA effectively ruled it out for use on Covid-19 patients.
I’d like him to expand further on that line of thinking, beyond just vague platitudes about “saving the country”. Is allowing a large fraction of the country to die compatible with “saving the country”? He emphasizes “opening the markets” — are markets more important than the people in them?
I think he means it is less important that the poors should die, than that his wealthy friends should be compelled to make less money.