Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on reopening economy: 'More important things than living'

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick doubled down on the controversial comments he previously made regarding the coronavirus pandemic, telling Fox News on Monday that Americans had to “take some risks” in reopening the economy.

Patrick was heavily criticized last month after he suggested in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he and other senior citizens might be willing to die in order to save the U.S. economy. The Texas official stood by his statements in a new interview with Carlson on Monday night, saying that “we are crushing the economy.”

“And what I said when I was with you that night, 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,” Patrick said Monday night.

He went on to say he didn’t want to die, but that “we got to take some risks and get back in the game, and get this country back up and running.”

The Texas Democratic Party released a statement Tuesday saying that Patrick and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would put Texans at risk in order to enrich business interests.

“They would see our family members die to bail out Wall Street,” the statement said. “The lives of our families, our friends, and our communities have no dollar amount. Texas Republicans can no longer claim to be the pro-life party anymore.”

Other prominent voices have echoed Patrick’s comments. Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth from Indiana noted last week that deaths due to coronavirus were “the lesser of these two evils” over a failing economy.

Economist Stephen Moore, who has also served as an adviser to President Donald Trump, told CBS on Friday that the economy must reopen soon. Moore said that the effort to save every life by shutting down business was unwittingly “causing huge hardship for citizens.”

Television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz told Fox’s Sean Hannity last week that reopening schools would be an “appetizing opportunity” to get the country’s “mojo” back, and only cost about two to three percent of lives. Oz later apologized for the comments.

“I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention,” Oz said on Twitter Thursday. “I misspoke.”

Some Southern governors have begun loosening restrictions put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus, though some health officials have warned that it may be too soon.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp granted businesses across the state permission to reopen later this week, while South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster gave permission for many retail businesses to reopen on Monday.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he won't extend the state's stay-at-home order beyond April 30, hoping to allow some businesses to reopen by the beginning of next month.

The president for weeks spoke about his desire to reopen the economy as more than 20 million Americans have filed for unemployment since mid-March. And on Thursday, Trump unveiled a three-phase plan for states to reopen.

Trump’s plan put the onus on states to reopen, emphasizing that all people should continue to practice social distancing when in public and continue to minimize nonessential travel.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, warned that a May 1 reopening might be too early.

“We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet,” Fauci told the Associated Press last week.

Fauci warned that with limitations on testing capabilities, it would be difficult to prevent new infection clusters from sprouting as areas roll back social distancing safeguards.

“I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections,” Fauci said. “It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going to count.”