Pence Spouts Happy Humbug At Covid-19 Task Force Briefing

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence

On Friday Mike Pence convened the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in nearly two months, amid a spike of coronavirus cases in some of the largest states in the country.

Pence used his time to lie about the Trump administration's response to the virus and distort the reality that millions of Americans find themselves in.

Here are four lies and distortions Pence uttered during that briefing on Friday afternoon:

"All 50 states and territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly."

That's not true.

After reopening too soon and too quickly — against the advice of public health experts — the Republican governors of Texas and Florida announced their states are once again implementing social distancing measures as coronavirus cases soar.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he is closing all bars and reducing capacity in restaurants to 50 percent after Texas saw 5,996 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday.

And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is banning the sale of alcohol in bars after his state reported 8,942 new cases on Friday. That single-day increase is nearly as high as those seen in New York at the peak of coronavirus infections this spring.

"We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives."

The coronavirus curve is by no means flattened.

Data shows that while the national curve trended slightly downward earlier in June, it never came close to flattening. And now it's once again on the rise, with the number of new cases on Thursday rising to the highest single-day increase since tracking of the virus began.

Only a handful of states truly flattened the curve, including New York and New Jersey, which had the worst outbreaks early on but now have decreased the spread of the virus thanks to the implementation of social distancing measures and policies such as mandated mask-wearing.

But a number of other states, such as Arizona, Florida, and Texas, where Republican governors reopened early and refused to mandate mask-wearing, are seeing spikes. And experts are now concerned about the availability of hospital beds.

6-26-20 from Shareblue Media on Vimeo

"To one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country."

This is misleading.

While testing capacity is up, it is not the only reason the number of positive tests are increasing.

In fact, public health experts look at the percentage of tests that come back positive to determine the level of concern: The higher the percentage, the more alarmed the experts are.

In Texas, the positivity rate climbed to 10.42 percent on Wednesday. Abbott had previously called a 10 percent positive rate a "warning flag."

In Florida, the positivity rate stood at 13.4 percent on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Pence said there's a "tendency" for people to believe "we're in a time of great losses and great hardship on the American people. The reality is we're in a much better place."

While Pence painted a rosy picture of where the United States stands with regard to the coronavirus, there are still millions of Americans facing hardship.

To date, 124,393 people have died of causes related to the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

And nearly 21 million people are still out of work, according to unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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