The lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, has called for social distancing measures to be eased for his state amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “There are more important things than living.”
During an appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight on Monday, Mr Patrick said that the death rate in Texas is not high enough to go keep everyone in lockdown.
“Every life is valuable, but 500 people out of 29 million and we’re locked down,” he said.
Mr Patrick added that closing the state has badly affected businesses in Texas and people need to go back to work soon.
“We’re crushing the average worker. We’re crushing small business. We’re crushing the markets. We’re crushing this country,” the lieutenant governor said.
Mr Patrick was on on the show on Monday, to discuss his comments a month previously, where he questioned the need for social distancing measures to be implemented in Texas.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to live, but if you said are you willing to take a chance, and if I get sick I’ll try and go get better, but if I don’t I don’t,” he said in March.
“We are going to be in a collapse, recession, depression, collapse in our society if this goes on another several months. There won’t be any jobs to come back to,” he added.
On host Tucker Carlson’s show on Monday night, Mr Patrick reiterated his comments and said “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.”
Wall Street suffered its worst slump in three weeks on Tuesday, after oil prices fell for a second day, and the 70-year-old added that the state needs to reopen soon if the economy is going to recover.
“I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man, we got to take some risks and get back in the game, and get this country back up and running,” he said.
“We cannot endure this much longer.”
When asked about the timeline for reopening the state, during his press conference on Tuesday, Texas governor Greg Abbott said: “We as a state must do all that we can to protect our most vulnerable population.”
Google’s dedicated coronavirus page shows that Texas has upwards of 20,196 confirmed cases and at least 517 deaths.
According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are upwards of 825,306 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 45,057.