After weeks without a briefing from the pandemic task force he was charged with leading, Vice President Mike Pence published an op-ed assuring Americans that—despite new cases spiking across the country—there is no second wave of the virus that's upended daily life in the United States.
This assessment comes just three days before President Donald Trump is set to hold his first rally in months after a pandemic-induced hiatus. The rally will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Pence recently claimed cases were declining. This was false.
Pence, however, claimed concerns about the virus were due to the media:
"In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a 'second wave' of...infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy."
Many—including experts like Dr. Sanjay Gupta—disagreed with the assessment that the threat was overblown.
The truth is - we are still in the thick of the first wave, technically, so we cannot even begin talking about what… https://t.co/uTuok2ZpbP— Dr. Sanjay Gupta (@Dr. Sanjay Gupta)1592363425.0
25,450 new Covid cases today with 849 deaths. Pence says the worries about the pandemic are overblown. Special plac… https://t.co/kTm4ZvArnr— American Veteran (@American Veteran)1592358971.0
Live updates: Nine states hit record highs for COVIDcases as Pence calls fear of a second wave ‘overblown’ Alabama… https://t.co/Ek7xYefonB— Debbie (@Debbie)1592394857.0
It's a bit premature for Pence to be calling fears of a covid-19 second wave "overblown," since we're not even clos… https://t.co/TbZX3v8x97— Bob Toomey (@Bob Toomey)1592398798.0
He went on to heap praise upon the President:
"The President brought together major commercial labs to expand our testing capacity, manufacturers to produce much-needed medical equipment, and major pharmaceutical companies to begin research on new medicines and vaccines. He rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines. And the progress we've made is remarkable."
This isn't in line with actual events.
Throughout the early stages of the virus, the President pushed against widespread testing reportedly because he wanted to keep case numbers low. As recently as this week, he continues to dismiss the effectiveness of widespread testing.
As far as manufacturers producing "much-needed medical equipment," the President refused to invoke the Defense Production Act that would've mandated manufacturers adapt facilities to begin creating equipment like N-95 masks and other vital supplies. This refusal came as hospitals across the country faced widespread shortages of equipment—shortages the President, in some cases, denied existed.
Finally, Pence's claim that the President "rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines." This is in diametric opposition to the President's actions. Trump's own task force briefings didn't adopt social distancing protocols until called out by the media. The President refused to publicly wear a mask to prevent spread of the virus through saliva projectiles. Pence himself recently deleted a tweet featuring him and dozens of Trump campaign staff members packed together in a room.
What's more, when armed residents of certain states began gathering en masse to call for reopening of the state's economy, Trump arguably fueled unrest by tweeting to "LIBERATE" them from guidelines recommended by his own team.
Pence's letter seemed contradictory to actions people saw with their own eyes, and they were quick to call him out.
@blakehounshell This is some pretty shameless gaslighting.— Khashoggi’s Ghost (@Khashoggi’s Ghost)1592336412.0
@blakehounshell I see that Trump and Pence are doing the same thing they did back in February. They are pretending… https://t.co/DKcNTCxOoO— Mash #BlackLivesMatter (@Mash #BlackLivesMatter)1592333511.0
@blakehounshell @MalcolmNance Should @WSJ print an Op-ed if it is filled with provable lies?— JES (@JES)1592332695.0
Record spikes of new cases continue across the United States.