Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Monday made the eyebrow-raising claim that “there are more important things than living” as part of his continued push to reopen the U.S. economy, despite warnings from public health experts.
“We’re crushing the average worker,” Patrick told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “We’re crushing small businesses. We’re crushing the markets. We’re crushing this country. ... There are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country.”
“I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die,” he added. “But we gotta take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”
TX Lt Gov Dan Patrick: "There are more important things than living ... I dont want to die, nobody wants to die but man we've got to take some risks" pic.twitter.com/dRTF8Moav4
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 21, 2020
With more than 788,000 confirmed cases, the U.S. has the most known coronavirus infections in the world by far. At least 42,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. Texas has the 10th-highest number of confirmed cases of any state in the U.S., with more than 20,000. There have been at least 523 virus-related deaths in the state.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced plans to allow some retail businesses to reopen this Friday. Texans have been under statewide stay-at-home order since April 2.
The coronavirus has indeed devastated the U.S. economy. More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Retail sales fell a record 8.7% last month, far outpacing the previous record decline of 3.9%, which occurred during the Great Recession in November 2008.
But medical experts and public health officials have warned that easing social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the virus too early could have disastrous effects.
Per President Donald Trump’s guidelines for reopening parts of the U.S. announced last week, state officials must confirm a two-week downward trend in documented cases, as well as ensure adequate hospital and testing capacity.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), chair of the National Governors Association, told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s claim that states have enough tests to ease restriction was “absolutely false.”
Patrick, 70, sparked backlash last month when he told Fox News that there are “lots of grandparents” who would be willing to die to save the U.S. economy
“My message is that let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it,” Patrick said at the time. “And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves.”
Patrick told Carlson on Monday that he had been “right” about the economy.
“I’m sorry to say that I was right on this,” Patrick said. “I’m thankful that we are now, Tucker, finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it’s been long overdue.”
“Let’s face reality of where we are: In Texas, we have 29 million people. We’ve lost 495,” he added. “Every life is valuable, but 500 people out of 29 million and we’re locked down.”
Experts say the stay-at-home orders have helped Texas and other states avoid overwhelming their health care systems, reported The Texas Tribune.
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
What happens if we end social distancing too soon?
What you need to know about face masks right now
How long are asymptomatic carriers contagious?
Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
Everything you need to know about coronavirus and grief
Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.