Lt. Gov. Patrick criticized for claims that unvaccinated Black Texans are to blame for COVID surge

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- In less than one minute, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created a firestorm.

The Texas official is facing allegations of a racist rhetoric after remarks he made about vaccination rates during an appearance on Fox News.

He suggested unvaccinated Black Texans are to blame for the state's recent surge of COVID-19.

Leaders from all over the country are condemning Patrick's comments. People from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to the national NAACP president are calling his claims baseless and offensive.

In a Fox News interview now being widely shared, he claimed that Democrats like to blame Republicans for the spread of COVID-19, but the biggest group of unvaccinated people in most states is Black Americans.

"Well Laura (Ingraham), the COVID is spreading, particularly, most of the numbers are with the unvaccinated," Patrick said. "And Democrats like to blame Republicans on that. Well, the biggest group in most states are African Americans who have not been vaccinated."

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"It's going to be close," one health official said as a record number of Texas hospitals run out of intensive care beds.



He went on to say that the last time he checked, "over 90% of them vote for Democrats in their major cities and major counties."

Patrick finished his statement emphasizing that he respects that if people don't want the vaccine, "We (Republicans) won't force it on them. That's their individual right."

In a tweet, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, Julian Castro, called the comments "reprehensible."



Mayor Turner said, "The lieutenant governor's statements are offensive and should not be ignored."



NAACP President Derrick Johnson went a step further and said, "Black Texans are not the driving force behind the surge of COVID cases in Texas. His statement is not only baseless, it's racist. Falsely casting blame on the Black community is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and we expect better from an elected official."



So, what are the facts? According to Texas Department of State Health Services, 5.5 million white Texans are vaccinated, or 34.9%, and 1.2 million Black Texans are vaccinated, or 7.8%.

It's important to note, Black people only make up 11.82% of the population in Texas, according to the 2020 Census.

While there certainly is some vaccine hesitancy in the Black community, due to the Tuskegee Experiment and a long history of racial disparities between health care for Black and white Americans, the population numbers don't back Patrick's claims.

Texas is a huge state of 29 million people. The majority of the population is white, followed by those who identify as Hispanic.

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