TEXAS -- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, appearing on Fox News with host Tucker Carlson Monday night, appeared to double down on controversial statement he made last month concerning the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus. 

Patrick earlier suggested that older Americans should fend for themselves during the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep the economy running.

Monday night, Patrick, 70, said the following:

“And what I said when I was with you that night, there are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren, and saving this country for all of us.”

Patrick, feeling vindicated about his March comments, noted death totals have been smaller than earlier projected but that economic fallout from social distancing measures has come to pass.

“I don’t want to die. Nobody wants to die,” Patrick said. “But, man, we gotta take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.”

Like several states, Texas has already moved to ease restrictions and get businesses reopened. Beginning April 24, retailers will be permitted to operate on a to-go basis. Texas state parks reopened April 20. More announcements concerning the further loosening of social distancing measures are anticipated later in April and in May.

Patrick suggested America’s economy can be reopened while maintaining safeguards that protect against the spread of COVID-19.

“Every month we stay closed it’s going to take two to three months to rebuild,” Patrick said. “Again, every life is precious, I don’t diminish one life, but our country should not have been locked down.”

As of Tuesday, more than 500 deaths in Texas have been attributed to COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.