Coronavirus: Senior citizens should risk being infected to save US economy, says Texas official

Lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said ‘if that’s the exchange, I’m all in’

Andrew Naughtie
Tuesday 24 March 2020 11:17
Texas Lt. Gov. says seniors should 'take a chance' on coronavirus to save America

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, has said that older Americans should be prepared to risk potentially lethal infection if it meant the US could avoid an economic collapse.

Mr Patrick told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that as a 69-year-old grandparent himself, he is prepared to gamble with his own life it means others could go back to work instead of allowing a devastating depression to take hold.

“You know, Tucker, no-one reached out to me and said, ‘as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.

Mr Patrick made the remarks as many parts of the US impose severe lockdown measures to try and turn the outbreak around.

Businesses in major cities and elsewhere are being forced to close their doors to prevent both workers and customers from spreading and contracting the virus, and the resultant impact on the economy is already mounting.

Some are issuing truly calamitous forecasts; Morgan Stanley is predicting that the economy will shrink by 30.1% in the year’s second quarter, while Goldman Sachs says 2m are about to lose their jobs.

As Mr Patrick sees it, fending off this impending disaster is more important than saving older Americans from the disease, which has claimed eight lives in his home state.

“I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me – what we all care about, what we love more than anything are those children. And I want to live smart and see through this. But I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed, and that’s what I see.”

His sentiments are apparently shared by Donald Trump, who the same day insisted at a press briefing that the US “wasn’t built to be shut down”.

Defying his own public health advisers, he went on: “America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.”

Mr Patrick took hope from the president’s words. “My heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say,” he told Mr Carlson,” because we can do more than one thing at a time. We can do two things.”

“So my message is let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country. Don’t do that. Don’t ruin this great American dream.”

“So you’re basically saying that this disease could take your life, but that’s not the scariest thing to you? There’s something that would be worse than dying?” asked Mr Carlson.

Mr Patrick replied: “Yeah.”

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