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Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth Prefers People Dying of COVID-19 Over a Failing Economy

Illustration for article titled Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth Prefers People Dying of COVID-19 Over a Failing Economy
Photo: Trey Hollingsworth (Official Facebook)

A Republican congressman has joined President Trump and others in hastily looking to “reopen America” despite a very much still active global health crisis. This congressman, however, went so far as to flat-out say that people dying is acceptable as long as the U.S. economy gets back on track.

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CNN reports that Indiana Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth made an appearance on radio station WIBC and said straight up that, virus be damned, “it is always the American government’s position to say, in the choice between the loss of our way of life as Americans and the loss of life, of American lives, we have to always choose the latter.

“The social scientists are telling us about the economic disaster that is going on. Our (Gross Domestic Product) is supposed to be down 20% alone this quarter,” Hollingsworth continued, CNN reports. “It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils. It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils and we intend to move forward that direction. That is our responsibility and to abdicate that is to insult the Americans that voted us into office.”

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OK, but what about the Americans who don’t want to die? What about the millions of Americans who would prioritize keeping their families whole over living in a country with a stable economy? Is insulting them just perfectly fine? Does Hollingsworth honestly believe that the people who voted him into office would prefer death over insult?

Also, with stories filling our newsfeeds on how black people are dying of COVID-19 infection at much higher rates than white people, it probably wouldn’t be too bold of an assumption to say—*Kanye West voice*—Trey Hollingsworth doesn’t care about black people.

Imagine being a black person living somewhere like St. Louis where, as of April 13, 84 percent of COVID-19 related deaths have been black people and having to listen to Hollingsworth’s “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” diatribe.

But that’s just it: People like Hollingsworth know that they are among the least vulnerable to death by this infectious virus. Hollingsworth is white, young (he’s 36), on the right side of the poverty line and a person with access to adequate healthcare. As of 2019, he was listed as the 12th wealthiest member of Congress with a net worth of $50.1 million. It’s easy for people like him to sit on top of a tower and look down at all of the more vulnerable people as they drown, knowing the unlikelihood that the water will rise to his level. It’s easy to say, “more people dying is a necessary evil” when you are not imagining yourself or those closest to you being on the chopping block.

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Of course, Hollingsworth later tried to walk his words back telling CNN in a statement provided by his office, “It’s hyperbolic to say that the only choices before us are the two corner solutions: no economy or widespread casualties.”

“We can use the best of biology and economics to enable as much of the economy to operate as possible while we work to minimize disease transmission,” Hollingsworth said.

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So he thinks it’s “hyperbolic” to say that increases in deaths and continued social distancing are our only two options currently, yet he’s already imagining a scenario where people are being allowed to perish so that America can get back to business as usual.

One final question: Is Hollingsworth OK?

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

The economy isn’t going to restart until the epidemic is under control. Even if the governors start easing restrictions, people aren’t going to start returning to restaurants and theme parks at the levels those businesses require until they start to feel safe. Opening things up now will be worse for the economy as well as public health because it will only serve to prolong the recession.