Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick responds to criticism over his comments on COVID-19 spread and unvaccinated African Americans

HOUSTON – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is under scrutiny Thursday after he blamed the rise of COVID-19 in Texas on Black people who are not vaccinated in the state and Democrats.

In an interview with host Laura Ingraham of Fox News show “The Ingraham Angle,” Patrick said this: “The COVID is spreading, particularly -- most of the numbers are with the unvaccinated, and the Democrats like to blame Republicans on that.”

“Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated,” he continued. “The last time I checked over 90 percent of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties, so it’s up to the Democrats to get, just as that it’s up to Republicans, to try to get as many people vaccinated.”

“But we respect the fact that if people don’t want to the vaccination, we’re not going to force it on them, that’s their individual right. But in terms of criticizing the Republicans for this, we’re encouraging those who want to take it to take it, but they’re doing nothing for the African American community that has a significant, high number of unvaccinated people, so they need to address that.”

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner personally signed a tweet in response to Patrick’s statement saying: “The Lt. Governor’s statements are offensive and should not be ignored. st”

Breaking it down

The Texas Tribune reports there are an estimated 5.6 million white people who are eligible and unvaccinated, while the same figure is 1.9 million for Black people, who make up a far smaller part of the overall population. The figure is 4.9 million for Hispanic people, whose population is now nearly as large as the non-Hispanic white population in Texas.

The full vaccination rate among Black people in Texas is 29%, lower than the rates for Asian, Hispanic and white Texans.

Texas has reported race and ethnicity data for about 82% of people who are fully vaccinated.

The Tribune reported further: “Also despite Patrick’s claims, vaccine hesitancy is higher among Republicans than it is among Black people in Texas, according to a June poll from the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas at Austin. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans said they would not get a vaccine as soon as it is available to them, while 18% of Black people said the same.”

In Patrick’s statement Friday afternoon, he stated that data “clearly indicate that Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than White or Hispanic rates.” However, his statement did not address the false claim that African Americans are the “biggest group” who are unvaccinated.

Dr. Jorge A. Caballero, a Stanford clinical clinical instructor in anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, railed against Patrick on Twitter, using U.S. Census data, Kaiser Family Foundation statistics and Texas Department of State Health Services data.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.