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Conservative think tank leader says schools should reopen since most Texans dying from COVID-19 are elderly or Hispanic

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Vance Ginn, the chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is facing fierce backlash for a recent racist tweet that said schools should open since most of the people dying from the coronavirus in Texas are elderly or Hispanic.

Before Monday, the state’s racial and ethnic breakdown of deaths had large gaps, with up to 18% of deaths last month recorded as “unknown.” A revised count of the data released Monday by the Department of State Health Services, however, shows that Hispanic Texans are overrepresented in the state’s updated fatality count.

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Citing the revised data, Ginn tweeted that the people most likely to perish from the deadly virus are people older than 50 and Hispanics, whose death rate increased from 24.8% on May 27 to 47.4% on July 27. Hispanics make up about 40% of the state’s population.

Meanwhile, about 180 deaths, or 3% of the total, occurred among Texans younger than 40. About 2,000 people who died were 80 or older, making up the largest age bracket of COVID-19 deaths.

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?” Ginn wrote in a since-deleted tweet. He juxtaposed his tweet with a GIF of Prince Harry of Wales miming a mic drop.

He later apologized for tweeting the GIF. “It’s been brought to my attention that the gif may have been perceived as insensitive. I apologize as that was not my intention,” he tweeted.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Ginn said the intention of his Twitter thread was to outline the more thorough data provided by the state. He also said his tweet with the GIF was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.”

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“What we’re really focused in on is, ‘How can we best make sure that Texans are taken care of during this time?’” he said. Given the revised data that shows demographic breakdowns, he questioned whether state and local officials should take a more “targeted approach” to combatting the virus, rather than passing blanket policies.

Ginn later removed the tweet and apologized. “I believe strongly based on my deep faith that every life is precious,” he wrote. “My intent was to highlight the positive development of more data available to make better policy decisions and help the vulnerable.”

Almost 53% of public school students were Hispanic in 2018-19 and more than 60% are economically disadvantaged, according to Texas Education Agency data. Public health experts have said schools that reopen in areas with high and fast-rising rates of community spread are likely to exacerbate the effects of the virus. That means staff and students could bring the virus home to their families.

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“This is my grandfather Albert. He was an Hispanic citizen of the U.S. & passed from #Covid,” tweeted former state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas. “His grandchildren (born in Dallas) lived with him and also got #Covid. They survived. W/ great respect, the death of elderly Hispanics does not necessarily make the schools safe to open.”

Ginn, who previously served in the White House under President Donald Trump’s administration as associate director for economic policy at the Office of Management and Budget, also served as senior economist for the think tank.

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While children may not be the most vulnerable to contracting the virus, fear of community spread has prompted some large school districts to delay the start of the fall semester for in-person instruction.

In mid-July, Texas education officials said school districts could delay on-campus instructions for at least four weeks and ask for waivers to continue remote instruction for up to four additional weeks in areas hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. During that time, districts must educate at least a small percentage of students in person and give the state information on what public health conditions would allow them to bring more kids into classrooms.

In recent months, the Republican Party has faced criticisms for appearing to prioritize the economy over public health, while research shows that COVID-19 disproportionally affects Black and Hispanic people.

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Gov. Greg Abbott, too, has faced pushback from Democrats on his coronavirus response efforts. Although he implemented a statewide mask mandate earlier this summer, he’s been chided for a speedy phased reopening of the economy to which public health experts attribute a record number of coronavirus deaths in the state.

Aliyya Swaby contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of the headline on this story referred to the Texas Public Policy Foundation as a GOP think tank. The conservative foundation is nonpartisan.

Disclosure: Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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Conservative think tank leader says schools should reopen since most Texans dying from COVID-19 are elderly or Hispanic

In an interview, Vance Ginn said the intention of his Twitter thread was to outline the more thorough data provided by the state. He also said his tweet with a GIF was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.”

Vance Ginn, the chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is facing fierce backlash for a recent racist tweet that said schools should open since most of the people dying from the coronavirus in Texas are elderly or Hispanic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Before Monday, the state’s racial and ethnic breakdown of deaths had large gaps, with up to 18% of deaths last month recorded as “unknown.” A revised count of the data released Monday by the Department of State Health Services, however, shows that Hispanic Texans are overrepresented in the state’s updated fatality count.

Citing the revised data, Ginn tweeted that the people most likely to perish from the deadly virus are people older than 50 and Hispanics, whose death rate increased from 24.8% on May 27 to 47.4% on July 27. Hispanics make up about 40% of the state’s population.

Meanwhile, about 180 deaths, or 3% of the total, occurred among Texans younger than 40. About 2,000 people who died were 80 or older, making up the largest age bracket of COVID-19 deaths.

Inline article image

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?” Ginn wrote in a since-deleted tweet. He juxtaposed his tweet with a GIF of Prince Harry of Wales miming a mic drop.

He later apologized for tweeting the GIF. “It’s been brought to my attention that the gif may have been perceived as insensitive. I apologize as that was not my intention,” he tweeted.

ADVERTISEMENT

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Ginn said the intention of his Twitter thread was to outline the more thorough data provided by the state. He also said his tweet with the GIF was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.”

“What we’re really focused in on is, ‘How can we best make sure that Texans are taken care of during this time?’” he said. Given the revised data that shows demographic breakdowns, he questioned whether state and local officials should take a more “targeted approach” to combatting the virus, rather than passing blanket policies.

Ginn later removed the tweet and apologized. “I believe strongly based on my deep faith that every life is precious,” he wrote. “My intent was to highlight the positive development of more data available to make better policy decisions and help the vulnerable.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Almost 53% of public school students were Hispanic in 2018-19 and more than 60% are economically disadvantaged, according to Texas Education Agency data. Public health experts have said schools that reopen in areas with high and fast-rising rates of community spread are likely to exacerbate the effects of the virus. That means staff and students could bring the virus home to their families.

“This is my grandfather Albert. He was an Hispanic citizen of the U.S. & passed from #Covid,” tweeted former state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas. “His grandchildren (born in Dallas) lived with him and also got #Covid. They survived. W/ great respect, the death of elderly Hispanics does not necessarily make the schools safe to open.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ginn, who previously served in the White House under President Donald Trump’s administration as associate director for economic policy at the Office of Management and Budget, also served as senior economist for the think tank.

While children may not be the most vulnerable to contracting the virus, fear of community spread has prompted some large school districts to delay the start of the fall semester for in-person instruction.

In mid-July, Texas education officials said school districts could delay on-campus instructions for at least four weeks and ask for waivers to continue remote instruction for up to four additional weeks in areas hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. During that time, districts must educate at least a small percentage of students in person and give the state information on what public health conditions would allow them to bring more kids into classrooms.

ADVERTISEMENT

In recent months, the Republican Party has faced criticisms for appearing to prioritize the economy over public health, while research shows that COVID-19 disproportionally affects Black and Hispanic people.

Gov. Greg Abbott, too, has faced pushback from Democrats on his coronavirus response efforts. Although he implemented a statewide mask mandate earlier this summer, he’s been chided for a speedy phased reopening of the economy to which public health experts attribute a record number of coronavirus deaths in the state.

Aliyya Swaby contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of the headline on this story referred to the Texas Public Policy Foundation as a GOP think tank. The foundation identifies as conservative.

ADVERTISEMENT

Disclosure: Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Veteran Republican operative shames the GOP — and warns they won’t get rid of Trumpism ‘for at least a generation’

Published

on

Stuart Stevens is a veteran Republican campaign operative from five presidential races. When he spoke to PBS's Judy Woodruff Wednesday, he lamented the GOP failed the moral test it was presented with Donald Trump.

"Well, I think there's been two strains in the party. Call it an Eisenhower strain going back to the '50s and a McCarthy strain," Stevens said, recalling when the GOP would talk about expanding their party and bringing in more African-American voters. "Now we don't even hear any talk anymore of a big tent. And we seem to have settled into a very comfortable white grievance identity."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Seth Meyers mocks Trump’s Axios interview where he ‘couldn’t even remember his own BS — that’s how fried his brain is’

Published

on

In his response to President Donald Trump's bizarre interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, "Late Night" comedian Seth Meyers explained the Trump interview in a single photo:

"You know something has gone horribly wrong when a journalist interviewing the president looks like that," said Meyers. "That's the face you make when your dad gets drunk and decides to tell you about the night you were conceived."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Former Trump ambassador tells Rachel Maddow ‘it’s a big red flag’ that Trump is trying to hide investigation of Turnberry scam

Published

on

Former acting ambassador to the U.K., Lewis Lukens, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the inspector general raised questions to him and embassy staff in the U.K. about President Donald Trump's demand for the ambassador to lobby for the British Open to be hosted at Trump's golf course in Scotland.

According to Lukens, he told those questioning how to go about getting the British Open at Trump Turnberry, and Lukens said he was clear that it was "unethical" and "possibly illegal." Still, Trump's cronies persisted.

He explained that when the inspector general did the investigation they went back to Washington to write up the report and that it should have been released by now, but it obviously has not. Today, the acting IG, who took over just three months ago, abruptly resigned.

Continue Reading
 
 
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