Texas lt. governor faces backlash after claiming unvaccinated African Americans responsible for COVID-19 surge

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) is coming under fire for a Thursday night appearance on Fox News in which he claimed that African Americans who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus are the reason for the surge in COVID-19 infections across the nation.

Fox News's Laura IngrahamLaura Anne Ingraham90 percent of full-time Fox Corp. employees say they're fully vaccinated: executive Texas lt. governor faces backlash after claiming unvaccinated African Americans responsible for COVID-19 surge Fox News requires employees to provide vaccination status MORE asked Patrick during her prime-time show to share his thoughts on criticism from Democrats on his state's handling of increased infection rates, noting Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ban of mask mandates in schools.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

A clip of the exchange posted to social media garnered nearly 1.5 million views and more than 4,000 responses, with many Twitter users sharing their outrage.

Houston Mayor Sylvester TurnerSylvester TurnerAfrican American Mayors Association says they'll coordinate with White House, others to take in Afghans Texas lt. governor faces backlash after claiming unvaccinated African Americans responsible for COVID-19 surge Climate Mayors are building back better — now Congress must act MORE responded to Patrick's remarks in a tweet on Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite vaccination rates among Black Texas remaining relatively low, according to state data, the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the state have been reported among white and Hispanic people. Non-Hispanic white people reportedly account for nearly 35 percent of coronavirus cases, while Hispanics make up about 35.8 percent of the cases in the state.

“Making a statement that casts blame on a racial or ethnic minority for the spread of disease is a well-known racist trope that predates most of us,” Jorge Caballero, a former instructor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, told The Washington Post. “People are already getting hurt by this virus, and it makes absolutely no sense for us to add insult to injury.”

Patrick defended his remarks in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday, accusing "Democrat social media trolls" of "fanning the flames of their lies."

"Federal and State data clearly indicate that Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than White or Hispanic rates," he wrote. "Democrats continue to play politics with peoples’ lives, pandering to rather than serving certain constituencies. Republican leadership will continue to encourage vaccination without mandates in all populations."

Texas has reported that nearly 46 percent of its population is fully vaccinated, according to the Post.