AUSTIN, Texas -- The blame game over rising cases of COVID-19 continues along largely partisan lines, with Democrats attacking GOP governors who have banned measures like mask mandates and vaccine passports, and Republicans blaming the Biden administration's border policy for the uptick in cases.
The attacks heated up Thursday when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed that African Americans were to blame for the ever-increasing wave of coronavirus cases.
Patrick was asked on Fox News to respond to criticisms over his state's handling of the pandemic.
"The COVID is spreading," Patrick said, "particularly, most of the numbers are with the unvaccinated and the Democrats like to blame Republicans on that. 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," Patrick said, adding that it's up to Democrats and Republicans to get people vaccinated.
Facts First: Just on raw numbers, Black people, at about 13% of the total population, are not the "biggest group" of unvaccinated people either in Texas or across the US. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that white adults account for the largest share of unvaccinated adults. Even if we dive into the rates, the implication from Patrick that Black people are especially to blame for spreading the virus is not accurate.
According to data analyzed by KFF, Black people made up over 50% of positive COVID cases in only two of the 35 analyzed places as of August 16: the District of Columbia and Mississippi. Specifically, in Patrick's state of Texas, Black people represent 15% of cases, Hispanics 52% and white people 32%.
In his response to CNN, Patrick's office pointed to a Facebook post from the lieutenant governor that incorrectly claimed "Federal and State data clearly indicate that Black vaccination rates are significantly lower than White or Hispanic rates."
On this point, Patrick is wrong as well, since data suggests the difference across racial groups is not that clear. According to an analysis of self-reported data from KFF, 65% of Black adults said they had received at least one dose of the vaccine compared to 70% of white adults and 61% of Hispanic adults. A different KFF analysis says that in 40 states, 50% of white people are vaccinated and 40% of Black people are vaccinated.
The KFF analysis notes that "Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine." However, vaccination rates among Black people continue to increase while the rate among white people is on the decline.
The number of new daily COVID cases continues to rise in the state of Texas, up 24% over the past two weeks. The number of patients hospitalized with the virus continues to climb as well. "Hospital capacity concerns worsening. Fatalities are increasing faster," the state's Department of State Health Services said Wednesday.
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