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Dan Patrick says “there are more important things than living and that’s saving this country”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick exits a press conference at the state Capitol over the state’s response to the coronavirus on March 31,      Nick Wagner/POOL via American-Statesman
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick exits a press conference at the state Capitol over the state’s response to the coronavirus on March 31, Nick Wagner/POOL via American-Statesman

After facing intense criticism for suggesting on Fox News last month that he’d rather perish from the new coronavirus than see instability in the state’s economic system, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said last night that he’s thankful Texas is beginning the process of reopening its economy because the restrictions are currently “crushing small businesses” and the economic market.

“I’m sorry to say that I was right on this and I’m thankful that now we are now finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it’s been long overdue,” he told interview host Tucker Carlson.

“What I said when I was with you that night is there are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving his country for all of us,” Patrick said. “I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”

His comments were in reference to a March 23 interview with Carlson where Patrick implied he would rather die from the widely spreading coronavirus than see the economy destroyed for his children and grandchildren by overreaction to the disease.

During his latest interview on Fox News, Patrick said that, in Texas, the death toll wasn’t high enough to warrant shutting down the entire state. According to the latest data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, 19,458 Texans have been sickened from the virus, while 495 have died.

“Let’s face reality of where we are: In Texas, we have 29 million people. We’ve lost 495 and every life is valuable, but 500 people out of 29 million and we’re locked down,” Patrick said.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced initial steps to reopen the Texas economy, including those that will loosen surgery restrictions at medical facilities, allow all retail stores to provide product pickups and reopen state parks. He’s expected to give another update on the state’s response to the contagion later this afternoon.

Other states, like Georgia, have said recently that it plans to reopen bowling alleys, hair and nail salons, fitness centers and massage therapy businesses.