In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence firmly declares there is no "second wave" of COVID-19, and slams the media for coronavirus fear-mongering. In truth, he writes, thanks to the increase in testing, treatments, vaccine trials, medical supplies, and President Trump's leadership, America is "winning the fight against the invisible enemy." Social distancing succeeded in flattening the curve, more than half of the states are either seeing their number of cases remain stable or decline, many outbreaks are being contained, and the nation's public health system is in better shape than it was at the start of the pandemic. "The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different," Pence says. In truth, "We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future." Reactions:
- Pushback from officials: An official on the White House's coronavirus task force tells CNN that the increase in cases in some places is not simply due to a corresponding increase in testing, but to the virus becoming more prevalent. "They just don't want to deal with the reality of it," the official says. "They're in denial." And a CDC senior official says, "I don't know what his source is on that information, but that's not accurate" that only a small percentage of locations in the US are experiencing an uptick in cases. "You can cherry-pick a handful of counties and use that as way to say things are not as bad as they look. But that's not the reality."
- An "abrupt shift" from Pence: Politico notes that in addition to the op-ed, Pence made a number of comments this week indicating he's suddenly reinvented himself as a "coronavirus skeptic." The site says his stance verges on "pandemic denialism."
- One of those comments: Pence on Monday urged governors to attribute spikes in cases to increases in testing, the New York Times reports. In the same call, Pence downplayed the role community spread is playing in increasing cases. The data indicates all of the above is misleading, the Hill reports.
- A contradiction from Dr. Fauci: Anthony Fauci spoke to the Wall Street Journal himself, and though Pence was not mentioned in the interview, Fauci made clear that the higher percentage of positive tests some states are experiencing "cannot be explained by increased testing." Fauci also noted, "People keep talking about a second wave. We’re still in a first wave."
- Other comments from Pence: The VP has also recently downplayed the seriousness of the virus in Oklahoma, where Trump is planning a controversial rally this weekend, ABC News reports. ABC uses the term "misleading," a word often used in news articles about Pence's shift in messaging this week, to describe his comments about the state.
- Dueling op-ed: In the Washington Post, Greg Sargent says Pence's "deceptions unmask Trump's dangerous re-election strategy." Pence is attempting to make it seem like any outbreaks that do occur are a local and intermittent issue, not a broader danger for the country. The White House is trying to "creat[e] the illusion that we have already roared most of the way back to victory," Sargent writes.
- A conservative take: At HotAir, Allahpundit writes that while Pence is correct (for now) that there is no second wave, "part of the reason it’s true is that in some places the first wave never ended." The blogger does note, however, that the decrease in daily deaths is "genuine progress" that Pence rightly mentions in his op-ed. "I hope Pence is right that most of this growth is due to particular 'hot spots' rather than general community spread," Allahpundit writes, while acknowledging that seems "unlikely" in at least several places.
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