HOUSTON – President Trump’s message that he wants the country to get back to work sooner rather than later has hit home with at least one senior state official – Dan Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor. Mr. Patrick, the Texas chairman of the president’s campaign, appeared on Fox News on Monday and said that he was not only ready for the country and the economy to get moving again amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also that he and other grandparents might be willing to die for that to happen. “My message is that let’s get back to work,” Mr. Patrick, 69, said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “Let’s get back to living. He added: “I’m not living in fear of Covid-19. What I’m living in fear of is what’s happening to this country. And 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?
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Mr. Patrick’s comments set off a backlash online, but were also met with some approval, with the reaction often splitting along Democratic and Republican lines. NotDying4WallStreet began trending on Twitter. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to mock the idea. “Well, we’ll just sacrifice old people. They’re old people anyway. And the old get left behind,” he said at a news briefing on that state’s explosive number of coronavirus cases. “What is this, some modern Darwinian theory of natural selection? He added: “No American is going to say accelerate the economy at the cost of human life. At a news conference in Austin on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott continued to resist issuing statewide stay-at-home orders similar to those in California and New York, instead issuing a new directive that requires state agencies and private companies to submit regular testing numbers to the state, and hospitals to give daily reports on bed capacity.
He did seem to indicate that more severe measures may be on the way, however, remarking that he was surprised to see how many people were on the road when he was on his way to the news conference. “It is clear to me that we may not be achieving the level of compliance that is needed,” he said. Asked directly about Mr. Patrick’s comments, Mr. Abbott said that his primary goal was to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which he said was a necessary first step before the economy could pick up again. “If the goal is to get the economy going, the best thing we can do to get the economy going is to get Covid-19 behind us,” he said. “We must bend the curve on the growth of the coronavirus in Texas. Many economists say that there is no clear-cut exchange as Mr. Patrick suggested, predicting that a return to normal business, travel and gatherings could worsen a recession and put intense stress on the health care system by causing many more people to sicken and die. Some state leaders, like Gov.
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Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, have acknowledged conversations about how to restart state economies, but also said that they would not put business interests first. “If it’s public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health,” Mr. Cuomo tweeted on Monday night. At a news conference at the White House on Monday night, Mr. Trump said he would weigh whether to keep the economy so tightly closed after the current 15-day period, which is set to end Monday. He said the government could extend it another week and that some regions could reopen for business before others. “Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” Mr. Trump said. “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 said that he trusted the president’s judgment, should he decide to extend the period another week, but that some businesses could not wait an uncertain period of several more months. “I want to live smart and see through this, but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed,” he said.