This week a jump in reported COVID-19 related deaths, thanks to new data, revealed the severity of Texas’ crisis as one of the nation’s coronavirus hotspots. That data also illustrated the wide discrepancy in deaths by race, with Hispanic residents disproportionately representing 47 percent of the state’s fatalities. Hispanic Texans make up only 40 percent of the overall population. 

In response to this new data released by the Department of State Health Services on Monday, conservative economist Vance Ginn, who works for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, shared a racist tweet calling for the state to reopen schools and “check those from #Mexico.”

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?” Ginn wrote in a since-deleted tweet, as reported by Alex Samuels with the Texas Tribune. The tweet also reportedly included a GIF of Prince Harry doing a fake mic drop. Boo.

As of this post, over 6,500 Texans have died after contracting the virus. The data released Monday showed that people older than 50 and Hispanics are the most at-risk to die from COVID-19. 

After some backlash, Ginn spoke to the Tribune saying the tweet was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.” 

Only, the message seemed pretty clear. Ginn, like many other conservatives, have decided not to care about the people affected most by the virus, because it doesn’t affect them. The think tank leader told the Tribune he was advocating for a “targeted approach” to combating the virus, but that approach would look a lot like letting our country’s elderly and minority communities die so that the economy can recover. 

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

In response to Ginn’s post, former Texas Rep. Jason Villalba shared the story of his family's tragic loss due to COVID-19. 

Texas school districts have already been rolling out their plans for the new year. Many districts will be delaying their in-person start dates, beginning the school year with remote learning. Teachers and health officials continue to warn about the risks school reopenings put on communities that are already overwhelmed by the virus. Today, the U.S. passed the grim milestone of 150,000 COVID-19 deaths nationwide.

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