Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Under Fire for Appearing to Blame Coronavirus Surge on Unvaccinated African Americans

In a string of claims aired on Fox News late Thursday night, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick deflected criticism of Governor Greg Abbott and instead took aim at Black Texans, a population that has faced a greater rate of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths while often having less access to vaccination sites compared to other racial groups.

People criticizing the Republican leadership of Texas for the state’s rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths should instead blame unvaccinated African Americans, Patrick told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

“The COVID is spreading, particularly, most of the numbers are with the unvaccinated,” Patrick said in response to a question about people attacking the policies of Governor Greg Abbott, who is embroiled in legal battles with school districts and counties that have required masks despite the Republican governor’s ban on such mandates.

“The Democrats like to blame Republicans on that,” continued Patrick, a Republican. “Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated. And the last time I checked, over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties.”

Whether Patrick’s claim that Black people are the “biggest group” of unvaccinated people is accurate depends on whether his comment is understood as referring to the racial composition of unvaccinated Texans — or, rather, to the vaccination rates of racial groups.

In a Facebook post Friday afternoon, Patrick appeared to indicate he had meant to make the latter point. “Federal and State data clearly indicate that Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than White or Hispanic rates,” he wrote. “Republican leadership will continue to encourage vaccination without mandates in all populations.”

As of Monday, about 38 percent of Black Texans are fully vaccinated compared to 47 percent of white Texans and 45 percent of Hispanic Texans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, Charlie Zong

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