Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick used his time on Fox News Thursday (August 19) to lay blame regarding the surge of COVID-19 cases across the country on “African Americans who have not been vaccinated” who are “the biggest group in most states.”
Patrick appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show to defend Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s policies regarding COVID-19 and the widespread backlash he’s faced over them, including mask mandates within school districts across the state. Abbott tested positive for the virus on Tuesday (August 17) but is quarantining and has called for all Texans who’ve tested positive for COVID to have access to Regeneron.
Although Patrick confirmed COVID was spreading, he laid the blame at the feet of unvaccinated African-Americans.
“Democrats like to blame Republicans on that,” Patrick said. “Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated. The last time I checked, over 90% of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties.”
A clip of Patrick’s comments was shared on Twitter and has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services data, African Americans are not the driving force behind increased cases. Black residents in the state accounted for 16.4 percent of the state’s cases and 10.2 percent of deaths as of August 13. Although vaccination rates are low among Black Texans, the two demographics with the highest COVID-19 case rates are Whites and Hispanics. According to recent data, Hispanics make 35.8 percent of the state’s cases while Whites make up 34.9 percent.
“Keep the race element out. At one point it was the immigrants, now it’s African Americans, who will be next?” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said of Patrick’s comments.
Per The Washington Post, only 46 percent of Texans are fully vaccinated. The national average is 51 percent. Black Texans have the lowest vaccination rates among racial groups across the state at 28 percent according to the Texas Tribune. Many cited a “lack of trust” in health care based upon generations of disparities as to why they wouldn’t get vaccinated.
However, vaccine hesitancy is higher among Republicans than it is Black Texans in the state. 38 percent of registered Republicans polled by the outlet and the University of Texas at Austin in June said they wouldn’t get a vaccine as soon as it was made available to them, compared to 18 percent of Black people.