Outspoken Texas lt. governor experiences mild symptoms before positive-COVID test, officials say

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was outspoken about an unfounded claim of African Americans being the "biggest group" of unvaccinated people driving a COVID-19 surge in mid-2021, tested positive for the virus in the midst of a resurgence driven by the highly-contagious omicron variant.

The second-highest political seat-holder in the state experienced mild symptoms before testing positive last week, Patrick's campaign said in a statement released Monday.

"He has subsequently tested negative and is completing his quarantine period," the statement added.

Editor's note: The video above is from an August 2021 report on Lt. Gov. Patrick's comments on African American communities and the unvaccinated.

Patrick's senior campaign advisor, Allen Blakemore, said no one else in the lieutenant governor's household was infected and the lawmaker will return to a public schedule by the end of the week.

Patrick, an outspoken Republican who is up for re-election later this year, drew backlash after blaming Democrats for not doing more to increase COVID vaccination among African Americans, whom he claimed during, an August 2021 surge from the delta variant, were the "biggest group" to go without protection from the virus.

"It's up to the Democrats, just as it's up to the Republicans, to try to get as many people vaccinated, but we respect the fact that if people don't want the vaccination, we're not gonna force it on them," Patrick said at the time. "That's their individual right. But in terms of criticizing the Republicans for this, we're encouraging people 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."

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

Even as federal officials warned about holiday gatherings during the omicron surge, Patrick railed at Pres. Biden and top infectious disease advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, about government stepping in to stop families from celebrating the season.

"Fauci, Biden the Grinch, and their leftist subjects, who want to replace Christ with government, want to stop you from celebrating Christmas. Don't listen to them. Christ's birth gives us all everlasting hope. No one should come between families gathering on Christmas," Patrick tweeted on Dec. 23.

Patrick's camp didn't initially mention his vaccination status in its statement, but campaign officials confirmed to Eyewitness News that he is vaccinated and boosted.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.

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According to Gov. Abbott's office, he is not experiencing any symptoms and is receiving Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment.

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