AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ lieutenant governor said Monday night that the U.S. should get back to work in the face of the global pandemic and that people over the age of 70, who the Centers for Disease Control says are at higher risk for the coronavirus, will “take care of ourselves.”
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made the comments while appearing on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Patrick, 69, went on the program after President Donald Trump said earlier Monday that he wanted the country getting back to business in weeks, not months.
“Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,” Patrick said. “And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”
A spokeswoman for Patrick did not immediately return to an email seeking comment late Monday. Patrick went on to suggest on the show that there were lots of grandparents like him and that he doesn’t “want the whole country to be sacrificed.”
The polarizing comments have further divided both sides of the aisle as they strive to compromise on a kick-start stimulus package for federal and state economies.
“His plan is just crazy and it’s ridiculous that he would even say something like that,” said Abhi Rahman with the Texas Democratic Party. “Dan Patrick’s proposal would kill people and it would make this crisis go on even longer because we wouldn’t be dealing with stopping the spread of coronavirus.”
“A two-to-three week shut down I think we can handle. But two, three, four or even nine months, that is going to be very hard to come back from. And I think that is the message the Lieutenant Governor is trying to convey,” said Matt Mackowiak with the Travis County Republican Party.
“No one wants anyone to die unnecessarily. And I don’t think we have to choose between letting a grandparent die or reopening the economy.”
Cities across America have taken a major economic hit as many businesses are closed down and people are ordered to stay home.
Austin is no exception.
Whether its a sign, road block or city-wide order, there are a number of barriers preventing Austinites from spending.
The reality is a months-long shelter in place will cost Austin’s economy billions of dollars. Experts predict the unemployment rate could skyrocket to 30 or 40% for some sectors.
However, they also share that the best thing you can do to help the city recover is to shelter-in-place.
“[Austin] is going to be one of the first cities to recover once the coronavirus is behind us,” said economic consultant Angelos Angelous. “Listen to what the authorities are saying. Stay home. Hopefully this is going to be temporary.”
Health experts have made clear that unless Americans continue to dramatically limit social interaction — staying home from work and isolating themselves — the number of infections will overwhelm the health care system, as it has in parts of Italy, leading to many more deaths. While the worst outbreaks are concentrated in certain parts of the country, such as New York, experts warn that the highly infectious disease is certain to spread.
Patrick is a firebrand conservative and former talk radio show host who was elected to office in 2014. He was the Texas chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and has pushed the Texas Senate that he oversees further to the right.
Texas has more than 350 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths related to the virus. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has resisted calling a stay-at-home order for all of Texas but local officials in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin have.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Worldwide, more than 375,000 cases have been reported, and while most people recover in weeks, more than 16,000 have died from the virus.